Thursday, March 30, 2023

Manchester United 2-0 Nottingham Forest (5-0 agg): Martial on target as Red Devils comfortably book

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Feb 2023


Anthony Martial marked his return from injury with a goal to seal a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest and book Manchester United’s spot in the EFL Cup final at Wembley.

Holding a comfortable 3-0 aggregate lead from the first leg, United’s position never looked to be in real threat but the hosts struggled to capitalise on their chances.

Wout Weghorst hit the post in the first half and United continued to be unable to convert in the early exchanges of the second half until a triple change on the hour mark.

Martial finally broke that deadlock after 73 minutes, with Fred then poking home from close range to add further gloss to the scoreline and secure a date against Newcastle United.

A slow start saw few opportunities for either side until Casemiro’s header from a Luke Shaw free-kick forced a fine save from the feet of Wayne Hennessey, while Antony fizzed a fierce effort from distance over the bar.

Forest had a golden opportunity before the break, a deflected cross falling into the path of Emmanuel Dennis – a late addition to the Forest line-up after Jesse Lingard sustained an injury – to strike at goal, but his attempt was blocked by team-mate Sam Surridge.

Wout Weghorst then saw a header bounce back off the post with Hennessy beaten as the score at the break remained as you were from the first leg.

On the hour mark, Alejandro Garnacho tested Hennessey at the near post after skipping past Neco Williams, before a triple change saw Jadon Sancho make his long-awaited return, with Martial and Marcus Rashford also introduced.

The changes sparked life into the hosts and saw the deadlock finally broken, Martial slotting home on his return from injury after Rashford’s effort deflected kindly into his path.

United soon doubled their lead in the second leg, Fred on hand at the far post to poke home after Rashford cut a cross into the middle.

What does it mean? Wembley awaits

United’s schedule in February already presented a number of eye-catching fixtures and fans can now add the EFL Cup final on February 26 to that list.

Erik ten Hag’s side face a Premier League double-header against Leeds United and two Europa League clashes against Barcelona, though the showdown at the end of the month against Newcastle arguably holds greater significance.

United have not won any trophy since the EFL Cup and Europa League in the 2016-17 season, but they will be confident of ending that six-year wait.

Rashford’s record

Coming off the bench, Rashford’s two assists have taken the England international’s tally to 18 goal involvements in his last 15 appearances in the competition – scoring 12 and assisting six.

The United academy graduate has found a new lease of life this season under Ten Hag and continues to be a stellar asset.

Bad omens

For only the fourth time in their EFL Cup history, United have won both legs of a semi-final tie (out of 16 two-legged contests).

On the three occasions they have done so previously, they have gone on to lose in the final (1982-83, 1990-91 and 1993-94).

Key Opta Facts:

– United have reached the EFL Cup final for the 10th time, with only Liverpool (13) ever playing in more.

– Ten Hag’s side have won their last 12 home games in all competitions, their longest streak since a run of 12 between May and December 2017. It is also their longest winning run at Old Trafford within a single season since December-May in 2010-11 (17).

– Forest have lost their past nine meetings with United in all competitions, extending their longest ever losing run against a single opponent.

– United have kept 16 clean sheets in 33 matches in all competitions this season, with no Premier League side keeping more.

– With two assists from the bench, United’s Rashford has now been involved in 25 goals in all competitions this season (18 goals, 7 assists), the second-highest tally for a Premier League player after Manchester City’s Erling Haaland (34).

What’s next?

United return to Premier League action at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, while Forest host Leeds United the following day.


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