It was nearly six years since English Premier League giant Manchester United won its last major silverware, after the Jose-led Red Devils beat Erik ten Hag’s Ajax in the 2016/2017 UEFA Europa League. Interestingly, it was the 53-year-old ten Hag, who became United’s head coach manager earlier this season, led the team to play against Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final. Manchester United was able to carry the momentum from their vital win against Spanish La Liga’s Barcelona in the midweek to the finale and score two early goals in the first period to secure its sixth League Cup trophy in the history of football.
Casemiro and Rashford Stealing the Headlines
Erik ten Hag made only two changes to his side that beat Barcelona few days earlier, with Diogo Dalot and Antony coming in for Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jadon Sancho, whereas Eddie Howe altered his squad that was defeated by Liverpool with three replacements, including a first competitive appearance for Loris Karius in more than two years; The goalkeeper of course was hit with waves of criticisms when his blunders allowed Real Madrid to easily dispatch Liverpool in the 2017/2018 UEFA Champions League final.
Newcastle was unfazed by the Red Devils’ reputation and energised to win its first League Cup in history, but unfruitful efforts meant Manchester United was to capitalise on their own chances. Minutes after the half-hour mark, the in-form forward Marcus Rashford was brought down by Bruno Guimarães around the edge of the penalty box. The following freekick set-piece was gracefully delivered by England international Luke Shaw and met by Brazilian central defensive midfielder Casemiro. The 31-year-old’s header found the back of the net, and his fifth goal of the season opened the score line for the team in Red.
United doubled its lead in less than 400 seconds later, when Dutch loanee Wout Weghorst broke away and sent a through ball to the penalty box for the speedy Rashford. The 25-year-old’s strike was deflected into the Newcastle goal, allowing himself to register his 25th goal of the season and gave Erik ten Hag’s side a healthy margin that stayed till the final whistle of the match. United’s win in this season’s Carabao Cup snapped more than half a decade of long wait for a major silverware for the famous English club.
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United’s Sixth League Cup Triumph
The scorers in the game happen to be United’s best players in the current season, with Casemiro being the core to hold the fort and the missing piece United lacked of in its midfield area in past seasons and Rashford bagging goals for the once dreadful strike force of the side. This monumental victory, of course, could not be made possible, if it was not Erik ten Hag’s brilliance in management, and the Dutch coach has now won his first title as the manager of Manchester United.
Ten Hag: “Time to Get Back to Work.”
Ten Hag was pleased with his team performance on Sunday, but also reminded his team to not let off its momentum, as the side is still within contention of winning other three competitions, namely the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Europa League. He said: “But after we settled down, we got back to work and did what we had to do, which was recovery. The ones who played less [minutes in the final] did a good training session.”
The Dutchman also iterated the importance of teamwork in winning titles, added that “Let’s make myself clear: we didn’t win with 11 players, we did win with a squad and I think the squad the whole season is so important and every time players come in, if it’s for a whole game, minutes, a couple of games – also during games when we can change the dynamics – we do it with many more than 11 players. So I count on them and I know they will be ready, because every time they play they take responsibility and it’s about that, but you also have to fight for your position”.
United will now turn its attention to a FA Cup Fifth Round tie against fellow Premier League team West Ham United on Wednesday night, before setting up a heavyweight clash with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.