Manchester United did not have to win to reach the 2022/23 Carabao Cup Final. The Red Devils entered the game with a three-goal edge over Nottingham Forest from the first leg of the semi-final played at City Ground.
However, the two-goal win in the return leg at Old Trafford on Wednesday night helps a side already riding a wave of confidence. Anthony Martial and Fred grabbed the goals in quick succession in the second half.
As a reward for winning 5-0 on aggregate, Manchester United sets up a final at Wembley with Newcastle United on February 26, live on ESPN+. In the other semi-final, the Magpies saw off Southampton. Just like Manchester United, Newcastle picked up wins in both the legs of its semifinal.
Somewhat dreary contest
The rain-soaked Old Trafford on Wednesday epitomized the game. A dull first half ensued as United had the tie wrapped up before the first whistle blew. Erik ten Hag’s side just had to avoid a shocking upset at the hands of the team at the bottom of the Premier League table.
A defensive lineup was a surprise to no one for ten Hag. At the same time, he did not have to play the likes of Rashford or Martial. Instead, Antony and Alejandro Garnacho linked with Wout Weghorst.
Yet, it was not that front three that featured on the scoresheet. Instead, it was Martial, off the bench, that gave United the opener that all but put the tie to bed. The Frenchman replaced Wout Weghorst in the 63rd minute. Then, 10 minutes later, he got fortunate to grab a goal. Originally, Martial tried to play a ball in through to Rashford, but he underhit the pass. The rebound off the defender popped straight to Martial, who took matters into his own hands.
The second goal was much more appealing on the eye. Bruno Fernandes whipped in a ball with the outside of his right foot 20 yards from goal. Rashford awaited on the back post, as he centered it for Fred. All the Brazilian had to do was make contact for United’s second.
Another major celebration for United was the return of Jadon Sancho. The English forward missed considerable time with fitness problems. This was his first game back since late October.
Fred, starting the game to shore things up defensively, added the insurance goal on the night just three minutes later. It was a comfortable performance from United. Forest only mustered 26% of the possession, testing Tom Heaton in goal three times.
Newcastle awaits Man United in Carabao Cup Final
United advancing sets up a major clash with another team towards the top of the Premier League table. Newcastle United, one of the best teams in England this season, cruised into the Carabao Cup Final. The two clubs sit third and fourth in the Premier League table, and played a feisty draw earlier in the season.
In that game, Cristiano Ronaldo thought he scored the only goal of the game, but it came back as the play never started. United had numerous chances to go in front. However, Newcastle, which has conceded just 11 goals in the Premier League this season, held on for a draw.
The Carabao Cup Final is scheduled for Feb. 26 from Wembley Stadium. The game will be shown on ESPN+, which is part of the Disney Bundle. Priced at $12.99/month, the Disney Bundle includes ESPN+, Hulu and Disney+.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Sportimage
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