Relief at Last as Fumbling Man United edge past Northampton
Manchester United late Wednesday Night successfully made it to the 4th round of the EFL competition by beating lowly rated Northampton. Jose Mourinho’s men had come into this game on the back of 3 straight defeats from the hands of bitter rivals Mancity, Feyenoord and Watford. The media and other observers had torn the team and its manager to shreds over their poor form lately, so defeat this night would really have been disastrous.
Mourinho’s team really ought to have killed this cup tie the moment Michael Carrick scored with an elegant strike in the first half.Yet nothing is quite straightforward at the moment for the Old trafford side. And they were made to stumble in shoe-making country.
Northampton levelled before half-time when panic took hold among United defenders and Daley Blind conceded a penalty which was converted by Alex Revell.
Mourinho was forced to summon Zlatan Ibrahmovic and Marcus Rashford to secure a place in the EFL Cup fourth round.
As ever, Rashford made a difference where others could not, with the teenager involved in the crucial second goal smashed in from the edge of the penalty area by Ander Herrera.
He then scored the third, a simple tap-in after Northampton goalkeeper Adam Smith had made a complete mess of a long punt as he tried to field it on the edge of his box.
‘We deserved to win, clearly,’ said Mourinho. ‘It was difficult, as I expected, but we were totally in control for the first 35 minutes and then the last 45.’
The United boss could not resist the urge to grumble about referee Stuart Atwell for showing Jak McCourt a yellow card and not a red one for a foul on Memphis Depay early in the second half.
Depay did not last long after that. There were bad tackles flying around. Ashley Young and Morgan Schneiderlin were also on the receiving end.
‘The game should have been easier because normally it is easier against 10 men and we should been playing against 10 men,’ said Mourinho.
‘I think I should stop speaking about referee decisions. I spoke about the red card. I am talking about something which could end in a serious injury.’
Three United goals, however, masked another ponderous display and the increasingly uncertain future of Rooney, given a rare chance to start up front but unable to sparkle.
Before kick-off, Mourinho had told the TV audience to expect ‘goals’ from his captain. But that did not happen.
However he did come close, Fosu-Mensah met a cross with firm header which crashed into the bar and skidded up to Rooney, who bundled it in from close range only to discover he had been in an offside position.
Northampton stirred as half-time approached with Kenji Gorre zipping past Fosu-Mensah and striking a fierce effort which was turned against the bar by Sergio Romero.
Mourinho did not waste much of the second half before making his changes. Even then, there was no penetration and the breakthrough came from distance when Herrera, having already smacked a post from 25 yards, fired United ahead.
Northampton did not have another fight back in them and faint hopes vanished with Smith’s blunder and Rashford tapped the ball into an empty goal.
Manchester United’s reward for sailing through is a fourth round fixture with Guardiolas’s boys Manchester City.
excerpts from www.dailymail.com