Report: Northampton Town 1-3 Manchester United – EFL Cup 2016/17

Manchester United beat Northampton Town 3-1 at Sixfields Stadium after Michael Carrick put his side into the lead early in the first half, but United gave away a penalty at the end of the first half with the scores leveled. Ander Herrera, after trying something similar earlier in the match, doubled United’s lead from range. Marcus Rashford became the man of the moment once again by chasing a ball he was unlikely to win, beating the keeper and finding the back of the net. United were less convincing, but a win is a win and it has ended the three-match defeat streak.

Jose Mourinho made a few changes to his starting lineup with David De Gea, Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba all being left home with Anthony Martial on the sidelines through injury. Sergio Romero, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young were given starts with the manager keeping an eye on the Premier League fixture against Leicester City on Saturday. United  started well, as they should have against a League One side. It did not take long for Wayne Rooney to fluff his lines, though, missing from less than five yards out. United, even if they do beat Northampton Town, will still have a lot of work to do ahead of this weekend’s match, and the UEFA Europa League match at Old Trafford next Thursday.

Inside twelve minutes, United could have been a few goals to the good, but the finishing was nothing to write home about. United should have been a bit more clinical against their opposition. United were playing well against the Cobblers, against as would be expected. A back pass for the home side saw United granted an indirect free-kick, which was taken by Memphis with a touch, then Rooney with a kick towards goal, which deflected back, found its was to Carrick with him scoring for United. If United can continue playing in this manner, confidence will rise ahead of Saturday’s match, which will only be a good thing.

After the opening goal, the tempo of the match changed slightly with United showing less urgency, but still the team in the driving seat. I guess the relief will have been there after scoring the opening goal of the match. In the 30th minute of the match, Rojo and Schneiderlin played a great ball over to the right with Fosu-Mensah running towards goal, he then headed the ball hitting the crossbar. Rooney was there to bury the rebound, but he was offside. United found themselves under the cosh with the match heading towards the 40th minute with Kenji Gorré, the former United Academy player heading towards goal, with his shot going over the crossbar. United were let off there,

In the 41st minute, United gave away a penalty through Blind with Alex Revell finding the back of the net to level the score. United now needed to work much harder to get back into the lead. United had another dubious moment towards the end of the half with Romero clattering Taylor to thump the ball out of the box. Nothing given for the challenge, which was fair. United immediately went on the attack with Rooney being thwarted by the goalkeeper. There were two minutes at the end of the first half, with it coming to and end with both teams level at 1-1.

No changes at the start of the second half for United, but it was not long before two changes were made. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford replaced Memphis Depay and Timothy Fosu-Mensah with Ashley Young pushed into the right-back role and Rooney now pushed into the right-wing role with Rashford tucked in behind Ibrahimovic. United seemed to have made the right changes, which seemed to make the home side more determined to break through and test United in a bid to get something more out of the game. United had a lot to do and were far from convincing. Just before the hour, Herrera clattered the post after a low drive into the box towards goal, which was a shame. Moments later Young was taken out with a poor challenge, with only a throw-in given which Rooney gave to the Cobblers keeper.

In the 68th minute, after breaking forward Ander Herrera after receiving the ball thumped his effort from range into the back of the net, not long after trying earlier in the match and hitting the post. Marouane Fellaini replaced Schneiderlin, who had a good game. Moments later, United extended their lead with Marcus Rashford chasing the ball, which seemed ahead of him. He then dummied the keeper, won the ball and walked it into the back of the net. Nice bit of skill from the 18-year-old. United were in the position where they had the insurance of a two-goal cushion, which was where they needed to be to command the match, staying in that position despite some threatening play from the home side.

United got the win they needed, despite it not being all that convincing at times, but they will be into round four of the EFL Cup and head into their Premier League clash with Leicester City knowing that they have ended their three-match losing streak, albeit against a League One side, a side they should have beaten convincingly, but didn’t. United might be down, but they were not out and the play of Rashford, Herrera and Carrick was reassuringly good and seemed to help United in their moment of need.

Goals: Michael Carrick 18′, Ander Herrera 68′, Marcus Rashford 75′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 68′, Ander Herrera 75′

Manchester United: Romero; Fosu-Mensah (Rashford 55′), Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Schneiderlin (Fellaini 73′), Carrick; Memphis (Ibrahimovic 55′), Herrera, Young; Rooney

Substitutes Not Used: Johnstone; Darmian; Mata, Lingard

Bookings: Daley Blind 74′

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