Manchester United cruised into the final of the Carabao Cup after completing a 5-0 aggregate victory over Nottingham Forest with a 2-0 victory in Wednesday’s semifinal second leg at Old Trafford.
Substitute Anthony Martial and midfielder Fred scored quick-fire second-half goals to put the seal on a tie that was effectively decided by Man United’s 3-0 win at the City Ground a week ago.
Erik ten Hag’s side will now compete for their first trophy since 2017 when they take on a Newcastle United team playing in their first major final in 24 years in the showpiece at Wembley on Feb. 26.
“The first half wasn’t great to be honest,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “I thought it was professional but too slow and we didn’t create too many chances.
“The second half was much better, more tempo and we made some good goals. We just want to improve every day. I think we have a good squad so we have to demand and control the high standards.”
Ten Hag, seeking a trophy in his first season at Old Trafford, opted to hand a couple of key players a rest with Marcus Rashford and David de Gea starting on the bench.
Otherwise, though, it was another strong starting lineup that included the likes of Casemiro, Bruno Fernandes and Raphael Varane.
The United boss also used the last 30 minutes to give Jadon Sancho his first appearance since Oct. 22. After spending time away from the team to work on physical and mental issues, the England winger received a large cheer from the Old Trafford crowd as he ran on for his return.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the one-sided nature of the first leg, there was little attacking intensity in the early going on Wednesday. It took until the closing stages of the first half for either goalkeeper to be properly called into action.
Casemiro forced a low save from Wayne Hennessey in the Forest goal with a downward header before Wout Weghorst went even closer on the stroke of half-time with a headed effort of his own from six yards out. The on-loan striker, who scored United’s second goal at the City Ground last week, watched on in frustration, though, as the ball came back off the foot of the post.
At the other end, Brennan Johnson, just as he had been in the first leg, was Forest’s biggest threat. The forward’s speed permitted him to get a shot at goal from the right side of the box after 34 minutes but the effort was straight at Tom Heaton, deputizing for De Gea in the Man United goal.
For much of the second half, the main talking point was a running battle between Alejandro Garnacho and Johnson. But Ten Hag’s introduction of Rashford, Sancho and Martial just past the hour-mark prompted a sharp increase in the home side’s attacking threat.
It did not take long for the deadlock to be broken. In the 73rd minute, Rashford saw a shot blocked and Martial was on hand to slam home the rebound.
Just three minutes later, Rashford had a second assist. After a fine cross from the outside of his right foot from Fernandes, Rashford helped the ball back across the face of goal allowing Fred to nudge it home from barely a yard out.