Manchester United cruised into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup as they won 3-0 at Brighton on Wednesday night.
Scott McTominay’s 44th-minute header set them on their way in their fourth-round tie at the Amex in a game far less frantic than the fixture in the Premier League on Saturday that United edged 3-2 in dramatic circumstances.
Late goals from Juan Mata and substitute Paul Pogba then sealed their passage into the next round.
United sail into last eight of Carabao Cup
Brighton: Steele (5), White (6), Dunk (5), Burn (5), Veltman (5), Molumby (6), Gross (6), Bernardo (6), Mac Allister (7), Jahanbakhsh (5), Gyokeres (4)
Subs: Maupay (5), Trossard (6), Sanders (n/a)
Man Utd: Henderson (7), Dalot (7), Bailly (7), Lindelof (7), Williams (6), McTominay (7), Fred (7), Mata (8), Van de Beek (7), James (4), Ighalo (5)
Subs: Pogba (7), Rashford (n/a), Lingard (n/a)
Man of the match: Juan Mata
Chances were few and far between in the first half. Odion Ighalo was presented with a half chance by Mata on 18 minutes but hit the side netting from a tight angle, and at the other end eight minutes later Dean Henderson got down low to his right to deny Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s effort rom the edge of the box.
The goal came just before the break. Mata won a free-kick off of Dan Burn and then swung it into the box himself, finding McTominay unmarked in the middle to head home.
- Only defenders Ben White and Lewis Dunk kept their Brighton places from the Premier League clash on Saturday, while Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard were on the bench.
- Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 10 changes, with just Victor Lindelof keeping his place. There were also starts for Donny van de Beek and Diogo Dalot.
Graham Potter reacted early in the second half with Neal Maupay and then Leandro Trossard coming on, and the latter had the best chance of the evening for the home side on 67 minutes as he was fed with a low ball by Pascal Gross, but his fierce effort was brilliantly kept out by Henderson.
Soon after, United would take the game out of their reach, as Mata followed up his assist for the first with a fine second on 73 minutes. Starting and finishing a move himself as he latched onto a cheeky flicked pass from Donny van de Beek and then found the bottom corner.
It was game over in the 80th minute as Pogba’s free-kick took a big deflection off the wall before curling into the top corner just inside the near post.
Analysis: Van de Beek shows his class
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:
Donny van de Beek is still waiting for his first Premier League start – much to the annoyance of his outspoken advisor, Sjaak Swart – but Manchester United’s £39m man was handed another opportunity in the Carabao Cup at the Amex, lining up behind Odion Ighalo in the No 10 role.
There were glimpses of his technical ability in the first half. In fact it was not until midway through the second that he misplaced his first pass. But he was a peripheral figure for long periods, only touching the ball 10 times in the opening 25 minutes. By the hour mark, that number had only risen to 23.
It all changed, however, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned to Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba soon after that.
Suddenly, Van de Beek was receiving the kind of service he needs in the final third and the impact was immediate. For United’s second goal, in the 73rd minute, he cleverly positioned himself in a pocket of space between the lines, then flicked Pogba’s forward pass into the path of Juan Mata.
It was his first assist as a Manchester United player, and with players like Pogba around him, there will surely be many more to come. “That’s the beauty of having players like Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Van de Beek in the team,” said Danny Higginbotham on co-commentary. “If one of them is overly marked, then it frees up the other one.”
What the managers said…
Brighton’s Graham Potter: “The key moment is Henderson’s save at 1-0. A really good save. Those are the moments you need to turn in your favour. Then they brought on Rashford and Pogba and it becomes more difficult for us.
“I thought it was a pretty even game in the first-half, even up to 2-0 it was quite even. We were in the game. It was a well-fought game. In the end, 3-0 is probably a bit harsh.”
Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “I can’t give you any news now [on Jadon Sancho or other signings]. We’re working with the players we’ve got, we’ve got a big squad – we’ve changed 10 players there from Saturday. If there’s any updates, we’ll give you them.
“I don’t comment on any other team’s players.”
Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher on Sky Sports:
“We know it’s more difficult for Manchester United to sign players. The value goes up, the negotiations are difficult. But at the same time they will be frustrated – Ole, the fans, everybody around the club – by the fact that Chelsea and other teams can do their business early, and that other teams have spent a lot of money already while Manchester United look like they are going to leave it last minute.
“For me, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, for the job he has done for the club, from where it was to what it is now, deserves the players he wants in. He’s always got the best interests of the club at heart, I know that, but sometimes Ole has to look after himself as well, because he’s going to be judged season on season.
“People don’t look at the work you’ve done, they want the here and now, and for Manchester United to get to where they want, they need players. They need three, four, five players to get anywhere close to challenging Liverpool. If they don’t recruit, they are going to find it tough to finish top four.
“I would hate all that pressure and criticism to go on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, because I feel he’s done a fantastic job. The board have to back him. Ole will have identified targets and so will the club. They’ve got five or six days to get him some help and get him some players in.”
Man of the Match – Juan Mata
He may not see too much action in the Premier League anymore, but in both of United’s Carabao Cup ties this season Mata has shown he still has the quality to make the difference.
The Spaniard did brilliantly to win the free-kick leading to the opener, which he took himself to tee up McTominay, before playing a crucial role in kicking off the move for his second, which he took with aplomb to nab his 50th goal for the club. Mata still has plenty more to give.
Both sides have one more Premier League game before the international break. Brighton head to Everton on Saturday at 3pm, while Manchester United host Tottenham on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 4pm, with kick-off at 4.30pm.