Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in the EFL Cup final with Zlatan Ibrahimovic opening the scoring for United and Jesse Lingard doubling the lead less than twenty minutes later. Manolo Gabbiadini scored in the dying seconds of the first half to give Southampton something heading into the second half. Gabbiadini then equalised for United early in the second half, with United battling to take control of the match, which came three minutes from time, in Fergie time with Zlatan scoring his 26th goal of the season and winning the cup for United.
Jose Mourinho made six changes to his side ahead of the Southampton match with David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial return to the starting XI. The Portuguese manager will be looking to end the day on a high, getting United’s first trophy of the season and his reign at the club in the bag. This match is Mourinho’s thirteenth cup final and he has won ten of the twelve already played. Only Benfica and Atletico Madrid have stopped Mourinho from winning back in 2004 and 2013. United started the match well, but Southampton were equally as good in the opening few minutes.
In the fourth minute of the match, Paul Pogba had the first shot on goal for United, stinging the palms of Fraser Forster, which was unlucky. Five minutes later Ryan Bertrand had a shot for Southampton but saw his low effort deflected wide of the target. Two minutes later Southampton scored through Manolo Gabbiadini but it was disallowed for offside. In the 19th minute, United opened the scoring with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring a free-kick from 25-yards past Forster which was his 25th goal of the season so far, his second at Wembley this season.
In the 24th minute of the match, Ander Herrera was booked for a challenge on Nathan Redmond and he made a meal of the challenge. Gary Neville said it should have been a free-kick, not a booking. Minutes after the booking, Southampton were on the attack once again with James Ward-Prowse, whose effort was stopped with a fine low save by David De Gea. In the 32nd minute of the match, De Gea thwarted an effort from Dusan Tadic, which could have been the equaliser. Both teams are up for the challenge today and United are not playing anywhere near their best.
United doubled their lead in the 38th minute of the match with Marcos Rojo setting Jesse Lingard up to score his second cup final goal of his United career. United were 2-0 up over Southampton, who had not been playing too badly, but this match was not over yet. Minutes after the goal, Southampton were battling to get something from the game and Jack Stephens was impeded by Lingard, he then fouled Anthony Martial and was booked, as was Lingard for his part in the fracas. Southampton were awarded a free-kick, which amounted to nothing for them.
A minute into the two minutes of added time at the end of the first half, Gabbiadini got a goal back for Southampton in the dying seconds of the first half with them very much back in the game with more to do from United. United had been warned earlier in the game when Gabbiadini’s effort was ruled out for offside that Southampton have the pace and ability to cost them. In the second half, United needed to stay on top of the threat and go for victory. The first half ended 2-1, with United still in the lead, but with a chance of Southampton making it a tough day for them.
At the start of the second half Michael Carrick replaced Juan Mata with Jose Mourinho looking to give United more control of the ball in midfield. Almost from the off Southampton were looking to get back into the match with an equaliser. Nathan Redmond had his effort thwarted by De Gea with a great reflex save. The equaliser came moments later through Gabbiadini, scoring his third goal of the game, his first was disallowed for offside. United were back to square one with everything to do in the match. Lingard looked to be on dangerous ground after being booked in the first half and still putting in poor challenges. Could let the side down today.
United had been shown many time by Southampton just how dangerous they can be and the warning signs were still coming, but United were just not able to thwart the chances from coming, just luck being the only factor in United not conceding again this afternoon. Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial could have made the difference for United on the attack, but neither took their chance to hit the ball towards goal with both seemingly up for the chance. Communication was not at the top of their minds at that moment, obviously.
United were still looking for another goal, as were Southampton. Jesse Lingard broke through, assisted by Martial who played a clever ball into the box, but Maya Yoshida challenged Lingard, stretching to put the ball out for a corner. United took the corner quickly, but could not threaten Southampton or do anything to even create a third opportunity for a goal. in the 76th minute of the match, after some good interplay United had the chance to find their third goal with Lingard striking it from the cross. The attempt was off target, flying over the crossbar. Not long left for United to take the lead again. Marcus Rashford replaced Lingard moments later.
United left it late to get themselves ahead again, not for the want of trying. Ibrahimovic was left open on the run towards goal after picking the ball up just inside the Southampton half, running towards goal. Marcus Rashford was in the box, but could not be reached by the Swedish veteran striker, instead he passed into midfield with Ander Herrera passing it to Zlatan who buried home his second goal of the game and his 26th so far this season. United were 3-2 up. Wayne Rooney was waiting to come on when the goal was scored, the change was then changed with Marouane Fellaini replacing Martial with United needing to see out added time, of which four minutes was playable.
United have won their 44th major trophy with a 3-2 victory over Southampton, who lose their second League Cup final in 37 years. Mourinho has won a major trophy in his first season in charge of the club.
Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 19′, 87′, Jesse Lingard 38′
Assists: Marcos Rojo 38′, Ander Herrera 87′
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Herrera, Pogba; Lingard (Rashford 77′), Mata (Carrick 46′), Martial (Fellaini 90′); Ibrahimovic
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Blind, Young; Rooney
Bookings: Ander Herrera 24′, Jesse Lingard 41′
Written by Mike Wilson