Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 at the City Ground in the Carabao Cup semi final first leg. Marcus Rashford opened the scoring in the sixth minute of the match with Casemiro assisting him. Wout Weghorst doubled United’s lead at the end of the first half after Antony’s shot was palmed off the keeper. Bruno Fernandes got the third goal of the match, scoring in the 89th minute with Anthony Elanga assisting him.
United started out well against Forest but both teams were trying to start something almost immediately. It was United who took first blood in the match though with none other than Marcus Rashford scoring his 18th goal of the season. The England forward picked up the ball picked the ball from Casemiro 60-yards out and went on a marauding run to beat Wayne Hennessey from close-range. The Forest crowd were silenced. What great form Rashford is in.
United were trying to get out of sight in the early stages of the half this time with Antony running towards goal. The Brazilian winger drifted in from the right and looked to score at the far corner. It was a great strike by the former Ajax player but there was not enough swerve on the ball. Forest had a set-piece in the 11th minute of the match which put them at an advantage but they did not have the ability to get anything from it. They needed to do so much better.
United had another chance in the 13th minute through Antony. This time it was Rashford, Wout Weghorst and Bruno Fernandes that combined to get the ball into the Brazilian winger but he sent if strangely off target, which seemed a waste of an attack. United were dominating the Forest midfield giving the home side a lot to work on to try and get back into the match. Forest won a corner in the 21st minute, which was cleared by Casemiro.
In the 23rd minute, Forest were level through Sam Surridge. The Forest forward celebrated in front go the home supporters. However, he was offside and VAR ruled out the goal. He looked annoyed by that. Forest had some more chances on goal but nothing to write home about. Antony had a shot on goal in the 33rd minute that tested Hennessey but the Welshman made the save to deny the Brazilian from a sixth goal this season.
Right on the 45th minute in the match, United doubled their lead with January signing Wout Weghorst scoring his first goal for the club. It was Antony that was causing the problems for Forest on the attack, bursting into the area and rifling a strike towards goal which Hennessey got a palm to. Weghorst jumped onto the rebound and fired into the back of the net. What a goal it was for the Dutchman. United were 2-0 up on the break with Forest needing a miracle.
At the start of the second half there were no substitutions for either side. United had a chance in the 48th minute with Antony and Weghorst combining well on the attack with the Dutchman ready to launch a shot on goal bit he was dispossessed. Four minutes later United had another chance, this time through Bruno Fernandes from 18-yards on the volley but it was not going to change anything for United. It was well wide of the target. Ten Hag did not seem happy.
In the 54th minute, United hit the crossbar. Antony burst into the box and found Christian Eriksen, who launched a strike on goal. This match was out of sight for Forest, even with one leg still to play. Forest had a shot two minutes later but that is all it was. Nothing special. United made their first substitution in the 57th minute of the match with Alejandro Garnacho replacing Marcus Rashford, giving the in form forward some rest ahead of Reading on Saturday evening.
United had another chance just before the hour mark. Lisandro Martinez played an amazing pass into Fernandes, who was rushing into the box. He tried to slide the all into Weghorst but the Dutchman could not reach it. Forest then made their first substitution with Jack Colback replacing Danilo. Six minutes later, Forest made a double substitution with Jesse Lingard and Emmanuel Dennis replacing Gustavo Scarpa and Sam Surridge.
Antony and Aaron Wan-Bissaka seemed to be working well together on the attack. Playing slick football and starting a counter. Eriksen was the recipient of the ball on the attack but Renan Lodi made a clearance to stop Forest from possibly conceding again. In the 71st minute of the match Ten Hag made a double substitution with Fred and Facundo Pellistri replacing Eriksen and Antony for the last twenty minutes or so of the match. United had fresh legs in attack now.
Forest made another double substitution in the 73rd minute with Lewis O’Brien and Neco Williams replacing Morgan Gibbs-White (who was injured) and Renan Lodi. Pellistri had a chance on the 80th minute getting in behind Williams. Anthony Elanga replaced Weghorst in the 85th minute as United fours substitute of the evening. The Uruguayan then found Weghorst in the box and tried the cross with the Dutchman not able to get on the end of it.
Pellistri had a good chance in the 88th minute but could not get the finish. United got a third goal with Fernandes finding the back of the net in the 89th minute, making it three goals and one assist in the last four matches for United. Anthony Elanga got the assist – his second of the season. United won the match 3-0 with the second leg left to play in a week’s time at Old Trafford. Reading up next for United in the FA Cup at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday evening.
David De Gea: The Spanish goalkeeper only had a few chances against him – one which Forest scored from through Surridge. However, VAR ruled the goal out with Surridge offside. De Gea had little to do for large parts of the match with Forest becoming lively late in the second half with United 2-0 up. He made a save to deny Scarpa, which was good but it was all he had to do. Forest were poor. United got a third, which puts the game out of sight for Forest. ★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: The right-back was not all that present on the attack for United but he played well with Antony ahead of him at times. Brennan Johnson tried to get the better of him, making the English defender look slow at times but United were not really tested by Forest. With Diogo Dalot on the sidelines through injury, Wan-Bissaka has this place sewn up, even if he looks out of place against better teams. ★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: Was judged to have made a mistake when Forest equalised but seemed to know what he was doing. At least that is how it looked. He grew into the match with Lisandro Martinez alongside him. The Argentinian really adds some steel to the defence and has been Ione of the best signings of last summer. Lindelof may be seeking to start on Saturday but with Raphael Varane rested for this match, he could be him that starts against Reading. ★★★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: The Argentinian played a key role in Rashford’s opening goal of the match and overcame an unsettling period of the match. He became the steel in the centre of the defence, has he has done since his debut at the start of the season. What a player Ten Hag has signed, but he’s had two years of him already so knew what he was getting. What a fitting performance on the day that Nemanja Vidic made his debut for United 17 years ago. ★★★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: The Dutchman has his manager on his back at stages in the match. Luke Shaw was ill for this match but I reckon he was going to start it anyway, resting Shaw for the Reading match on Saturday. He had some moments with Forest attacking in the first half, but in the second, he has little defensive work to do. He’s a good left-back and has had his moments this season but he needs more development to be the player he can be. ★★★★★★
Casemiro: The Brazilian was back in the starting XI after being suspended for the defeat to Arsenal on Sunday. His presence was felt by Forest. He played his part in United’s second goal, scored at the end of the first half with Antony firing on goal and Weghorst banging in the rebound after Wayne Hennessey named it back into play. United’s midfield is so much better with the Brazilian in it. He was missed against Arsenal. ★★★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: I thought he might be rested from this match but he started. Seemed to be in good form and was seeking to get involved in the scoring. Had some opportunities on goal and hit the crossbar. He’s a great player to have in the squad when fit. His night was over in the 71st minute of the match as he was replaced by Fred. It seems certain that he will be involved against Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday evening, maybe not from the start though. ★★★★★★
Antony: The Brazilian seemed to be seeking to get something from this match with his chances and shots on goal. Sadly none of them seemed to get him what he wanted. He does not seem to want easy goals, going for the spectacular finished to loft them over the goalkeeper. He played his part in Weghorst’s first goal for United, striking towards Hennessey who palmed the ball into the Dutchman, who scored. Replaced by Pellistri in the 71st minute. ★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: The Portuguese midfielder saw some frustration from Ten Hag this evening, especially after a flick of the ball gave no advantage for United. He had scored twice and assisted once in the last three matches and seemed determined to get something from this match. It was not the best night for him in a United shirt but in the 89th minute, Anthony Elanga found him and he buried his shot past Hennessey to get his sixth goal of the season. ★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: Scored his 18th goal of the season with his strike in the sixth minute of the match. What a goal it was for the in form forward – who did his celebration after scoring, which has been bringing tears from the ABUs for the last few matches. Rashford played well in the match and led well. He need dup being replaced by Garnacho in the 57th minute of the match, giving him some rest ahead of the FA Cup clash with Reading in Saturday. ★★★★★★★
Wout Weghorst: The Dutchman scored his first goal for United just at the end of the first half. Antony was rushing towards the goal and fired his shot at Hennessey’s goal with the Forest goalkeeper palming a save which rebounded into the Dutchman and then him striking it into the back of the net. What a first goal to have scored. He did everything he needed to do against Forest in this first leg which always seemed United’s. Replaced by Elanga in the 85th minute. ★★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Rashford 57′. Could have been more troublesome on the wing as he has been already this season. Probably needs some more minutes to get back up to speed for United. Saturday could be his time to get involved more with Reading heading to Old Trafford. He’s having a good season with two goals and four assists so far and he will be seeking to get more as the season grows on. United have many matches left. ★★★★★★
Fred: Replaced Eriksen 71′. Added some fresh legs in the midfield after Eriksen came off and was paired with his compatriot, Casemiro. Gave the energy needed to help United get through the match with them scoring a third goal with him on the pitch. United won 3-0 but still had 90 minutes in this tie left, playing at Old Trafford in a week’s time. Fred may be seeking to start against Reading at the weekend. ★★★★★★
Facundo Pellistri: Replaced Antony 71′. I was glad to see him get some minutes against Forest. Hopefully he can get some more against Reading. He provided a good cross for Weghorst late in the match but got himself into some trouble, which involved him getting the only booking of the match. He’s a lively player and had some talent. Hopefully he stays at United this month and gets more minutes on the pitch this season. I like this Uruguayan. ★★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: Replaced Weghorst 85′. Not the most talented player in the squad and he has done largely nothing for the club this season, yet still ends up getting chances. Perhaps Ten Hag can inspire him to start producing more. Got his second assist of the season providing the ball for Fernandes, who scored the third goal of the match, hitting the back of the net in the 89th minute. May have some involvement against Reading, albeit from the bench, of course. ★★★★★★★
Goals: Marcus Rashford 6′, Wout Weghorst 45′, Bruno Fernandes 89′
Assists: Casemiro 6′, Anthony Elanga 89′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Martinez, Malacia; Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred 71′); Antony (Pellistri 71′), Fernandes, Rashford (Garnacho 57′); Weghorst (Elanga 85′)
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Varane, Williams; Mainoo, McTominay
Bookings: Facundo Pellistri 84′
Written by John Walker