EFL Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Manchester United vs. Hull City
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Tuesday, 10 January 2017
Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Manchester United produced a 2-0 victory over Hull City in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford.
Second half goals from Juan Mata and substitute Marouane Fellaini secured the win, with a two-goal cushion to take into the return leg.
This result also sees the winning streak move to nine and unbeaten streak stretched to 15 as Jose Mourinho’s side continue to move through the gears.
A move down the left early on saw Matteo Darmian’s low cross tee up Mata whose strike produced a fine save from Eldin Jakupovic low to his right.
Good play saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan miss the target before the Armenian curled off target and fired over as the chances began to flood.
Antonio Valencia struck a difficult half volley over the bar, with Paul Pogba’s long range effort fumbled behind by Jakupovic.
Marcus Rashford then took aim as his ambitious shot just dipped too late to trouble, as Ander Herrera found the stands and Pogba’s placed attempt was held with half-time drawing to a close a goalless first half.
Looking for the record-breaking strike to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney drilled across goal and wide after Pogba had picked the skipper out on the right-hand side with a superb diagonal pass.
Pogba himself saw a shot blocked before the opening goal arrived.
Valencia’s right-wing cross was headed back towards goal by Mkhitaryan, with Mata showing a poacher’s instinct, lingering at the back post to tap home.
Similar to his one against Spurs a month ago, Pogba left the goalkeeper routed from a direct free-kick but only managed to strike the post, as substitute Shaun Maloney sliced wide moments after his introduction for the visitors.
It was another midfield substitute that eased the anxiety of the home faithful, when Darmian’s deep cross allowed Fellaini’s looping header to drop in despite the best efforts of the defenders.
Things were nearly made even better when Anthony Martial’s volley was smartly pushed away by Jakupovic, with referee Kevin Friend bringing to a close the first half of this tie.
Perhaps not the swashbuckling display that has been an offer in recent weeks, but this was still a deserved victory for United.
Creating chances aplenty is pleasing to see, with the interchangeability and movement amongst the front six a bonus.
Tonight also saw Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic rested ahead of Sunday’s fixture against Liverpool, with other potential starting contenders preserved from the full 90 minutes as Mourinho had one eye on such match.
That contest kicks off at 4pm, where United have the chance to move to within two points of their rivals, maintain the feel good factor and pile pressure on the teams above.
As for this competition, the return leg takes place two weeks on Thursday at the KCOM Stadium, where United will aim to rubberstamp their place at Wembley.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Darmian; Herrera, Pogba; Mata (Fellaini 79), Rooney (Martial 59), Mkhitaryan (Lingard 71); Rashford.
Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Fosu-Mensah, Carrick.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Hull City: Jakupovic; Meyler, Maguire, Huddlestone, Robertson; Henriksen (Hernandez 19), Mason, Clucas, Tymon (Weir 90+1); Snodgrass; Diomande (Maloney 74).
Subs not used: Marshall, Bowen, Clackstone.
Manager: Marco Silva