Second half goals by Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini gave Manchester United a first leg advantage over Hull City in the semifinal of the EFL Cup played this evening at Old Trafford.
Jose Mourinho made seven changes to the side that beat Reading in the third round of the FA Cup with Zlatan Ibrahimovic completely dropped from the team as the Red Devils have an eye on their clash against old rivals Liverpool on Sunday.
The Tigers 39-year-old manager Marco Silva line-up a very tactical 3-4-3 side with Adama Diomande leading the attack.
The first period did not go according to plan for the home side who were expected to over run their opponents, currently placed bottom in the premier league.
However, the away side stuck to their game to frustrate their hosts despite losing Markus Henriksen early on due to injury as he was replaced by Abel Hernandez.
Pual Pogba’s long range strike was tipped over the bar by Eldin Jakupovic in goal for Hull City and at the other end they nearly took the lead as Robert Snodgrass freekick was met with a cheeky header from Diomande but the ball came of the left hand post of David de Gea.
The referee’s assistant later flagged for offside but replays showed that the Tigers player wasn’t in an offside position as the ball came off Wayne Rooney into his path. Henrik Mkhitaryan produced a special moment in the final moments of the game as he breezed past four defenders and fed Rashford on the edge of the box but the youngster failed to utilize the opportunity as he was closed down by the Hull players.
Pogba bossed the midfield in the second half – he released Mkhitaryan on goal but the Armenian’s touch was too heavy as they ball slipped away to the goalkeeper.
The Frenchman was at his best with a 40-meters pass that was beautifully controlled by Captain Wayne Rooney but the England failed to find target for his 250th Manchester United goal which could have made him the club’s all-time leading scorer.
The deadlock was finally broken when a cross from Antonio Valencia was connected with a header from Mkhitaryan and the ball fell on the part of Jaun Mata and he finished with aplomb with his seventh strike of the season in all competitions.
Pogba nearly found himself on the scoresheet as he hit a brilliant freekick past Jakupovic in goal for Hull City but the ball came off the post. With the minutes counting out, substitute Marouane Fellaini rose highest to head homea perfect cross from Italian Matteo Darmian to seal a 2-0 victory for Jose Mourinho’s men.
The win made it the ninth consecutive victory for Manchester United for the first time since February 2009.