EFL Cup Final
Manchester United vs. Southampton
Date: Sunday, 26 February 2017
Kick-off: 16:30 GMT
Manchester United secured the 2017 EFL Cup with a 3-2 victory against Southampton at Wembley.
In a pulsating final, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard placed the eventual victors into the lead before Manolo Gabbiadini’s brace either side of half-time made for an interesting finale.
However, who else but Ibrahimovic to plant an 87th minute winner into the back of the net in front of the jubilant United following.
It was Paul Pogba whose shot led to Fraser Forster beating away a powerful strike as Nathan Redmond dragged wide at the other end.
The first moment of controversy came when Cedric’s low cross was tapped home by Gabbiadini, only to be ruled out for offside when replays showed it was Ryan Bertrand and not the Italian whom was offside.
Redmond cut inside and fired wide before the opening goal arrived against the run of play.
A needless foul from Oriol Romeu on fellow countryman Ander Herrera allowed Ibrahimovic to step up, curl a free-kick over the wall and into the bottom corner.
David De Gea was called into action to deny Steven Davis low to his right and Dusan Tadic, before the lead was doubled, once again against the run of play.
A throw-in on the left from Marcos Rojo was returned to the Argentine by Pogba, and further interchange between Juan Mata and Anthony Martial ended with Rojo’s pass finding Lingard in space inside the penalty area, and the academy graduate nestled a finish into the bottom corner.
This was Lingard’s third goal in his last three United appearances at Wembley, having bagged May’s FA Cup winner and in August’s Community Shield.
In added time at the end of the first period, James Ward-Prowse’s cross was put in by Gabbiadini to alter the dynamic of both sides half-time talks.
Whatever Claude Puel said to his troops seemed to work, as sloppy defending by United allowed Gabbiadini to finish on the turn less than four minutes after the restart to level proceedings.
It could’ve been a complete turnaround when Romeu’s header struck the post from a corner, as Lingard blazed over from a promising position.
Substitute Marcus Rashford forced a near post save before the winner came with little time remaining.
Good persistent work from Martial led to him spreading the ball to Herrera on the right, and the Spaniard’s cross was nodded home by Ibrahimovic who was left free to head in.
After four nervous minutes of stoppage time, Andre Marriner brought to an end a fantastic spectacle.
The club’s fifth league cup victory and Jose Mourinho’s fourth see the latter maintain his 100% record in the competition’s finals, whilst joining Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough on four titles.
It is also his 11th triumph in 13 finals in his managerial career and his previous league cup victories have been the catalyst for success in England.
The Portuguese boss also becomes the first United manager to win a major trophy in his first season in charge.
Meanwhile, 35-year-old Ibrahimovic made it 26 goals for the season, as the club continue to stride forward on all fronts this season.
Up next is another fixture against south coast opposition, with AFC Bournemouth the visitors to Old Trafford in the Premier League next Sunday at 12:30pm.
United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Rojo; Herrera, Pogba; Lingard (Rashford 77), Mata (Carrick 46), Martial (Fellaini 90; Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Young, Rooney.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Southampton: Forster; Cedric, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand; Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Davis (Rodriguez 90); Tadic (Boufal 77), Gabbiadini (Long 83), Redmond.
Subs not used: Hassen, Caceres, McQueen, Hojbjerg.
Manager: Claude Puel