Red Devils book Wembley trip to face Newcastle
Marcus Rashford came off the bench to quell any concerns of an improbable Nottingham Forest comeback with a hand in both goals on the night in a 2-0 win which sent Manchester United safely through to face old foe Newcastle United in the EFL Cup Final.
No team in the history of the EFL Cup had relinquished a three-goal lead from the first leg and Manchester United started the game as if they never once thought a calamitous collapse was on the cards. Forest’s Brennan Johnson had a gilt-edged chance in the 33rd minute to at least sow some seeds of doubt but his shot from eight yards was straight at Tom Heaton.
10 minutes later, after Johnson did brilliantly to evade the clutches of Casemiro, the Welshman’s cross found an unmarked Emmanuel Dennis but the forward’s goalbound shot was blocked by his own teammate, Sam Surridge. Just before the break Man United forced a timely reminder of their recent free-scoring prowess but Wout Weghorst could only direct his header onto the foot of the Forest post.
On the hour mark, Erik ten Hag brought on the proverbial cavalry in the form of Rashford, Anthony Martial and the returning Jadon Sancho. United instantly looked a more potent threat and on 72 minutes, Rashford’s blocked shot fell fortuitously to Martial who finished from 12 yards. Just three minutes later Rashford, who has gained supreme notoriety for his goalscoring exploits since returning from the World Cup, instead turned provider, laying Bruno Fernandes’ ball back across goal for Fred to tap in.
Even the most optimistic of Forest fans would have recognised the tie had all but been won in the first leg but a semi-final exit still marks their best run in the EFL Cup for 31 years.
For United, they have faced sterner resistance in the cup this season but for some of their more superstitious supporters there will be a slight concern that the Red Devils have lost all three of their EFL Cup finals when winning both legs of the semi-final and with Eddie Howe’s Newcastle laying in wait, a first chance for silverware since 2017.