Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 in the Carabao Cup semi final second leg at Old Trafford, 5-0 on aggregate and will face Newcastle United in the final at the end of February. It was a fraught first half for United but after a triple substitution Anthony Martial opened the scoring with Fred doubling the lead three minutes later – both assisted by Marcus Rashford. United will now be ready to face Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.
United started the match pushing to get forward and control the possession to protect their 3-0 aggregate lead from last week. Casemiro won a free-kick in the fourth minute of the match but United got nothing from it. By the seventh minute of the match, United had 88% of the ball with Forest not able to see a way back into the match. In the 11th minute, Luke Shaw charged down the left flank, player the ball into Alejandro Garnacho, who was stopped by Willy Boly.
Two minutes later, Forest were on the attack but Lisandro Martinez did enough to avert the danger for the home side. A minute later, Wout Weghorst fouled Emmanuel Dennis and Gustavo Scarpa took the set-piece with United defending well. Come the 18th minute, Garnacho used his pace and trickery as he looked to beat Neco Williams, who stayed on his feet with Garnacho going down. Anthony then tried to curl the ball into the goal but Wayne Hennessey got it.
In the 24th minute, Garnacho tried against Williams again but the cross he played into the box was deflected behind for a corner. Bruno Fernandes took the corner which saw some good Forest defending, however, they gave another corner. Fernandes then took that one short in to Shaw but the attack was cut out at the far post. United wanted a penalty in the 28th minute after Shaw’s throw-in came off the arm of Williams but the referee was not interested.
Hennessey made a save to deny United on the half hour with Shaw taking the free-kick and Casemiro heading the cross into goal and the Forest keeper making the save to deny United from a fourth goal in this tie. In the 33rd minute, Garnacho caused yet more problems on the left. He evaded Remo Freuler, crossed a dangerous ball into the box but it was Hennessey that held on to the ball as it was too close. Forest then forced a save from Tom Heaton at the other end.
Anthony hit one over the crossbar in the 38th minute, from the edge of the box after Shaw’s corner was headed away. The Brazilian was growing in the last few matches and his skill and determination was starting to shine through massively. United won a free-kick in the 41st minute – but nothing came of it. Forest had another chance, but it ran away from them. United had the best chance at the end of the half as Weghorst’s effort came off the post. 0-0 at the break.
There were now substitutions for either team at the start of the second half. Fred and Scarpa clashed on the edge of the Forest box in the 49th minute. There was a brief stoppage with the Brazilian on the deck but he was up soon after and ready to continue. Brennan Johnson beat Casemiro in the 54th minute on the right but saw his cross turned behind by Shaw. There was another penalty shout in the 56th minute after Scott McKenna took out Weghorst – not given.
Then there was a red card check in the 59th minute for a fracas between Garnacho and Johnson off the ball but nothing was given. In the 61st minute, Garnacho showed his skill again down the left before firing a powerful shot on goal which Hennessey parried away. Ten Hag then made a triple substitution with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial replacing Alejandro Garnacho, Antony and Wout Weghorst as United looked for that elusive goal.
In the 64th minute, Steve Cooper made a triple substitution with Alex Mighten, Danilo and Serge Aurier replacing Brennan Johnson, Remo Freuler and Renan Lodi. Casemiro was then booked in the 68th minute, joining Fred (34′) and Sam Surridge (45+1′) in the book. Before the card, there was another penalty shout but once again nothing was given. The questions was asked, ‘what did United need to suffer to get awarded a penalty in this match?’
United opened the scoring in the 73rd minute of the match with Rashford on the attack, playing the ball into Martial, who scored his sixth goal of the season which now sees him level with David Beckham on 85 goals. It was a great finish for the Frenchman, who was smiling whilst celebrating his goal on his latest comeback from injury – at the right time for United. Three minutes later, United scored again with Rashford getting the assist for Fred, who got his fourth goal this season.
In the 80th minute, Ten Hag made a double substitution with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof replacing Raphael Varane and Casemiro. At 5-0 down on aggregate, Forest had another chance in the 83rd minute of the match through Danilo but Heaton’s strong hand made the save before Surridge fired over the crossbar on the rebound. Terrible attacking prowess from him. Fernandes had the chance to try and make it 3-0 (6-0) in the 86th minute, missing the target.
United will face Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday 26 February meaning the Brentford match at Old Trafford in the Premier League will be postponed – another match for United to reschedule later in the season. Ten Hag will be pleased with the victory but more with the return of both Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial, which has came at a time where there was deflation with Christian Eriksen’s injury. We’re going to Wembley…
Tom Heaton: Made his third United appearance since returning to the club and kept his third clean sheet. Got the better of Brennan Johnson’s effort on goal at 0-0 on the night and made a save to deny Danilo with United 2-0 up on the night. He did not have a lot to do against Forest but when he was called upon, he was faultless. He’s a good deputy to have in the squad this season with Jack Butland yet to be involved at this stage of the season. ★★★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: The right-back played well with Antony once again, as he did at the weekend against Reading. The pair have been playing some good football of late. He actively got forward, showing his sense of adventure on the attack. United probed and penetrated in the first half but got nothing – that changed in the second half after Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial all came on. Confident performance. ★★★★★★
Raphael Varane: Did what he usually does defensively and with ease. He was fouled by Sam Surridge which gave United another injury scare at a point in the match but he was alright to continue. He’s a great player to have at United this season and he does what he does without bringing much attention to himself. United have a massive positivity in the centre of the defence this season with the Frenchman and Lisandro Martinez. Replaced by Maguire. ★★★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: He put in yet another commanding performance, as has been the case this season. When he’s on the pitch, there is some confidence in the defence – that has been terrible for much of the last decade. Since the Argentinian arrived at the club, he’s added some steel at the back for forged a great partnership with Varane. He will be seeking to give more as United aim to avenge Crystal Palace after their 1-1 draw in their last meeting. ★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: Came back from a period on the sidelines which saw Tyrell Malacia playing in the left-back position for the last few matches. He squandered a few crossing opportunities in the first half but also had a steady evening at the Theatre of Dreams as United were rarely challenged by Forest. Now that Shaw is back, with the Barcelona matches on the horizon, we could see him tested in the centre of the defence again. ★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: Seemed determined three years after making his debut for United – it was a 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers back them – more positive this evening. Played a great pass with the outside of his foot in the first half, doing similar in the second half with resulted in United’s second goal of the evening as they beat Forest 5-0 on aggregate. It was the first in five matches that he had not scored or assisted. ★★★★★★★
Casemiro: Played a cross into Wout Weghorst which hit the post in the first half which was one of the few highlights from the first half. He had a great opportunity to find a goal himself against Forest. The Brazilian is one of the standout players in the squad this season and he will be more determined to keep this United team achieving this season. The first cup final of the season has been earned and United will not want to stop there. Replaced by Lindelof. ★★★★★★★★
Fred: The Brazilian was not the greatest player in the first half as United seemed to regress, struggling to find a goal to settle the match. However, in the second half, he was lively as the trip of Rashford, Sancho and Martial all came on to add some meat to the attack. Fred scored his fourth goal of the season to double United’s lead. With the injury to Christian Eriksen, he was a shoe-in for his position but now Marcel Sabitzer has signed for the club. ★★★★★★★
Antony: The Brazilian winger has been showing his skills and his eye for a goal in the last few matches and really has started to impress. He had a few chances on goal and tried to add some class and style to his finishes, but did not add to his tally of five goals so far this season. He did not get 90 minutes under his belt again as he was replaced by Jadon Sancho – making his return from three months out of action. It seemed to work well for United. ★★★★★★
Wout Weghorst: The Dutchman had some flashes of what he brings to the team against Forest. He had a great chance on goal at the end of the first half, hitting the post. His hold up play and ability to make space on the attack has added a different dimension to this United side. He was replaced by Anthony Martial as he made his return from his latest injury – which worked well for United as he opened the scoring minutes after coming on. ★★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: The Spanish-born Argentinian was one of the liveliest players on the pitch against Forest. He was making strides on the left flank as he looked to create or score goals. Got the better of Neco Williams and was abrasive towards Brennan Johnson with the two clashing regularly. What a player he will become. Replaced by Marcus Rashford, who assisted both of United’s goals as they left Forest high and dry. ★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: Replaced Garnacho 62′. The England forward brought energy to United’s attack. It was needed with United not probing or penetrating Forest enough in the first half to open the scoring and put the tie to bed. He got himself two more assists this season, taking his tally to seven – two short of Eriksen’s assist total this season. Still on 18 goals but he will be seeking to change that this month with United facing Crystal Palace on Saturday. ★★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Replaced Antony 63′. Spent the last three months or so out of action and tonight, made amends for that as he returned with the bit between his teeth. He was bright on the attack and gave a massive smile as he replaced Antony. Sancho being back will give Antony competition, which is needed to get the best from both players. This came at the right time for United this season as United suffered a blow with Christian Eriksen’s injury. ★★★★★★★
Anthony Martial: Replaced Weghorst 63′. Scored his sixth goal of the season as Rashford put it on a plate for him on the attack. He was all smiles celebrating his latest goal for the club. He has a lot to prove this season and has opposition from Wout Weghorst on the main striking position this season, which will either make him raise his game or see him fall short of what United need. It is good to see him smile though – hopefully it goes his way. ★★★★★★★
Harry Maguire: Replaced Varane 80′. Came on for a late cameo. Did what was needed but in terms of impact, he was not on the pitch long enough to make a big one. It is good to see him get more minutes this season despite seemingly losing his place in the squad this season with Lisandro Martinez’s arrival in the summer. He will prove to be a good stand in this season but his future at United will be up in the air with a summer rebuild likely with new owners. ★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: Replaced Casemiro 80′. Came on at the same time as Maguire and is identical to him in terms of the cameo appearance. Like Maguire, he too will be seeking to find more minutes after being a mainstay in the defence and now becoming a stand in for rotation or cover for injuries. He too might question his role at United with new owners likely and a summer rebuild to follow that. I am sure he will get time on the pitch this season. ★★★★★★
Goals: Anthony Martial 73′, Fred 76′
Assists: Marcus Rashford 73′, 76′
Manchester United: Heaton; Wan-Bissaka, Varane (Maguire 80′), Martinez, Shaw; Fernandes, Casemiro (Lindelof 80′), Fred; Antony (Sancho 63′), Weghorst (Martial 63′), Garnacho (Rashford 62′)
Substitutes Not Used: De Gea; Malacia; Pellistri, Mainoo
Bookings: Fred 34′, Casemiro 68′; Sam Surridge 45+1′
Written by John Walker