Manchester United started with five changes to the side that drew 1-1 to West Ham in the Premier League on Sunday, as they went on to triumph over the hammers 4-1 in the replay of the fixture in the EFL Cup through Anthony Martial’s brace sandwiched between goals by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. United started with high pressure and some good football which led to a
United started with high pressure and some good football which led to a well-worked team goal in a couple of minutes involving Rooney as the anchor, Mkhitaryan providing the sublime assist, and eventually Zlatan Ibrahimovic slightly chipping over West Ham keeper Adrian, and only give us an injury scare.
The home side looked to possess a lot of the ball along with a display of good attractive passing and well worked counter attacks, largely involving wingers Mkhitaryan and Martial. Manchester United could have gone 2-0 up if not for Zlatan’s shot that was blocked, originated from Rooney and Mkhitaryan once again.
While Manchester United’s dominance was being acknowledged, Payet was yet again the orchestrator of West Ham’s goal that put the game back to square one in the 35th minute. It was former United academy graduate Ashley Fletcher who pounced on De Gea’s rebound save to equalize for the Hammers who were clearly the second best team in the first half. Funnily enough, it was Fletcher’s first ever goal for West Ham since he joined them in the summer and it came against his former team in their home ground.
While the first half of this United-West Ham tie wasn’t as eventful as the previous one in the weekend, Manchester united looked to have dominated the majority of that half, making us almost forget about Paul Pogba’s one match suspension.
Three minutes into the second half and Manchester United instantly took the lead, Mkhitaryan being involved as the assist-maker once again to Anthony Martial who thumped it in the top left corner at the Stretford End. The move started with a delicious back-heel pass from Valencia to Mkhitaryan who drifted in deeper in the right-hand side to eventually square to the Frenchman.
Just like the first half or any other match these days, United came close to doubling their lead in the 56th minute, as Anthony Martial’s controlled Rooney’s pass and shot it straight at the keeper. Later in the one hour mark, Zlatan managed to put a low and powerful free kick directly at Adrian that almost slipped from his hands.
However, the struggle for doubling the lead didn’t last long as United scored their third just two minutes later through Martial who absolutely loves to score against the Hammers as he scored his 5th goal in two games against the London side. Zlatan’s clever through-pass provided Valencia with a lot of space to square the ball to Martial who scored his second of the night.
With almost 15 minutes yet to play first blood was literally drawn between Winston Reid and Wayne Rooney when the former accidentally clipped Rooney’s face with the boot, for what should have been a penalty for United due to the English Centre-Back’s high boot. While the captain protested for a penalty, he was also urged to calm down as he was already on a yellow card for arguing with the referee and another suspension would be unnecessary for the home team.
In spite of the win over West Ham and United advancing to the Semi-Finals of the EFL Cup, the most exciting part of the night was the fact that Bastian Schweinsteiger finally made an appearance in a football game since 20th March 2016 against Manchester City. The German veteran replaced tonight’s hero Anthony Martial in the 86th minute and was deployed as the Centre Attacking Midfielder for the remaining minutes of the game.
Just when we thought the game would end at 3-1, Manchester United went on to score a fourth by Zlatan Ibrahimovic via our midfield hero Ander Herrera. A goal where fan favorite, and duly missed Bastian Schweinsteiger was involved, along with Rooney, to set up what was quite possibly the last touch of the game as United’s fourth and Zlatan’s second.
All in all, this was a much-deserved victory for Manchester United, a result that should have been replicated in the Premier League game as well. Considering both, Mourinho and Pogba were suspended for this match, there were a number of positives to take away for us, some of them being Mikhitaryan’s gradual improvement, Martial back to scoring goals, Bastian’s involvement and a place in semi-finals, just a few games away from perhaps winning our first silverware of the season.
Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 2′, 90+2′, Anthony Martial 48′, 62′
Assists: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 2′, 48′, Antonio Valencia 62′, Ander Herrera 90+2′
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw (Blind 46′); Carrick, Herrera; Mkhitaryan (Rashford 89′), Rooney, Martial (Schweinsteiger 86′); Ibrahimovic
Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Mata, Lingard, Schneiderlin
Bookings: Antonio Valencia 39′, Wayne Rooney 52′