We learnt three things as Man United secured their place in the Carabao Cup final after defeating Nottingham Forest 5-0 on aggregate. The Red Devils will face the high-flying Newcastle United in the final, which is due to take place on 26th February.
Having established a 3-0 lead in the first leg of the semi-final following a dominant performance at the City Ground, Erik ten Hag’s men completed the task on Wednesday with two late goals from Anthony Martial and Fred at the Theatre of Dreams.
Alejandro Garnacho was lively in the first half for the hosts. The United academy player, starting in Marcus Rashford’s place, caused trouble for Forest’s right side with his direct runs, but was hindered owing to some missteps in his final passes.
Erik ten Hag brought on Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, and Jadon Sancho as substitutes, with the latter receiving a huge cheer from the crowd as he made his first showing since late October. All three appeared energetic, but it was the Frenchman who scored the first goal by shooting with his left foot after his poor pass had resulted in Rashford’s shot being blocked.
1️⃣2️⃣ home wins in a row for @ManUtd 💪🏡 pic.twitter.com/4u6utqPpKw
— 433 (@433) February 2, 2023
Three minutes later, Rashford became the provider as he sent the ball back across the goal following a phenomenal trivela cross from Bruno Fernandes. Fred was the only other player in the six-yard box and he was more than happy to get the opportunity to tap the ball in with his thigh.
1. Martial Is Back And Breaking Records
According to Ten Hag, Anthony Martial has the potential to enhance United’s attack, as long as he stays fit. Although the French forward has 6 goals in 14 appearances this season (stats via Transfermarkt), his availability has been a concern for the team.
The Dutch manager expressed confidence in the striker’s abilities, mentioning his technical skills, ball handling, cleverness, and finishing as qualities that could make a difference for the team. However, Ten Hag also emphasised the importance of maintaining fitness, acknowledging that time will tell if that’s possible. The Dutchman sees the value in being able to assess and utilise the different strengths and skills of the players on the roster to adapt to the needs of each game.
Anthony Martial has now scored as many goals for Manchester United (85) as David Beckham. He has done this in 111 fewer appearances.
Strong return from injury. 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/JUmePHFVaB
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 1, 2023
In the 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, Martial, who was coming back from another injury absence, scored his second goal of the EFL Cup campaign, helping Man United secure a place in the final. This goal brings him to a total of 85 goals, tying him with David Beckham for 25th place on the all-time scoring chart for the Red Devils.
2. Nottingham Forest Didn’t Execute Their Plans
Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper expressed his disappointment after his team’s loss to Man United, particularly the way they conceded goals. He said that they failed to execute the game plan they had discussed, which led to key moments where they gave the hosts opportunities and were punished for it.
3. Bruno Fernandes’ Performances Have Gone Under The Radar
The name Bruno echoed around Old Trafford all throughout the game. The fans, as expected, relentlessly sang his praises in every aspect of his performance on the pitch.
Bruno Fernandes’ game by numbers vs. Nottingham Forest:
84% pass accuracy
5/5 long balls completed
4 key passes
3/4 ground duels won
2 crosses completed
1/1 dribble completed
Magnifico. 🪄 pic.twitter.com/QP7xvyZkfb
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 1, 2023
The Portuguese midfielder’s excellent display features stunning passes, such as the one to Marcus Rashford that led to Fred’s goal. He also put in tough tackles, earning him the well-deserved Player of the Match award.
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Erik ten Hag has the chance to win his first trophy with United in his first season with the club, which will break a six-year drought since the Red Devils’ last trophy, the 2017 Europa League, which was won under Jose Mourinho.
The Dutchman has achieved his first objective at Manchester United, guiding the team to a final in a domestic cup competition. The club will now face Newcastle, who defeated Southampton, at Wembley, in the final of the EFL Cup, marking United’s tenth appearance in this tournament’s final.
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