A second half with six goals saw Manchester United beat Aston Villa 4-2 in the Carabao Cup 3rd round, with 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho coming on to provide two assists for his side.
Goals from Ollie Watkins, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and an own goal from Diogo Dalot gave the Old Trafford crowd a scintillating second half that was in very stark contrast to the first.
The closest that either side came to a breakthrough in the first half was through Douglas Luiz. The Brazilian midfielder has scored just two goals this season, both directly from corner kicks, and he nearly added a third corner goal to his collection midway through the half. Thankfully for the reds, McTominay was on the line to claw it out, with debutant goalkeeper Martin Dubravka blocked off in the net.
The second half began with Watkins firing Villa ahead on the 48th-minute mark. There were shouts for handball as the Midlands side won the ball back in the middle of the park, but play went on through Jacob Ramsey who slipped in Watkins against the run of play. Harry Maguire and Dalot could not get back in time as the Englishman lofted it over the keeper and into the net.
It was a short-lived lead, though, with The Reds equalising just 19 seconds after play resumed from kick-off. Dalot played a glorious pass over the top to Fernandes, and the midfielder got the ball out of his feet and squared it to Martial who slotted it into an open goal.
The emotional rollercoaster peaked again for the visitors in the 61st minute. Former Man United man Ashley Young lofted a cross towards the back post that was met by Leon Bailey, the scorer of Villa’s first in the 3-1 win at weekend. The Jamaican played it back across goal with his head and the ball was bundled in by Dalot’s outstretched leg in what was an own goal.
Erik ten Hag brought on Christian Eriksen, Anthony Elanga and Alejandro Garnacho after Villa took the lead for the second time in the match.
Rashford soon equalised for the home team once more when he used some great footwork to find space for the shot inside the box. He got away from a couple of defenders before rounding off a delightful goal with a top finish in the 67th minute.
The tide finally turned United’s way ten minutes afterward. The Red Devils were creating good chances and The Claret and Blues were looking shaky. Garnacho capitalised on a poor clearance from the keeper and slipped in Fernandes, who had his outside-of-the-foot effort deflected off Tyrone Mings and into the roof of the net from close range.
The trailing side never managed to muster up a response, and United bagged a deserved fourth goal in stoppage time when McTominay was picked out by Garnacho. The Scotsman darted forward from the midfield and into the final third, where he got on the end of a lofted pass to poke home from the centre of the area to well and truly secure the win and send United into the 4th round of the cup.
Final Score: Manchester United 4-2 Aston Villa (Martial 49’, Rashford 67’, Fernandes 78’, McTominay 90+1’) (Watkins 48’, Dalot 61’ [og])
Man of the match
Rashford won the Player of the Match award on Sky Sport’s coverage, but Garnacho cannot be overlooked in the eyes of many fans.
The 18-year-old was introduced after the hour mark when Villa scored their second to take the lead once more. In just over half an hour, the Argentine bagged himself two assists whilst also making a whole host of positive runs and passes as United surged to an emphatic victory.
One moment, in particular, was impressive when he ran from his own half on the left wing, completely leaving Luiz to eat his dust. The assist for Fernandes was standard but the assist for McTominay was nothing short of superb.
It is fair to say that, if Kevin De Bruyne played that pass, you would not hear the end of it.
Not to do a disservice to Rashford, though. The Englishman was the most lively of them all for the majority of his time on the pitch.
Garnacho’s game by numbers…
- 26 minutes
- 23 touches
- 13/13 passes completed
- 2 big chances created
- 2 assists
- 2 shots
The bigger picture
Fans will always tell you that the Carabao Cup is a nothing competition nowadays, but there is no harm in enjoying a win and four goals by any means. Some of the football in the second half was the best that fans have seen in recent weeks, and Ten Hag’s men deserved the win, showing great resilience and spirit after going behind twice.
Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Casemiro all got a sufficient rest, with Eriksen only playing the last half an hour himself. Ronaldo was left out altogether due to illness, and David de Ge had his first break of the season.
Garnacho did not disappoint in his time on the pitch; it looks like United have a good player on the cards there.
It is good to be through as Ten Hag can give some of the rotation players a game or two. To play devil’s advocate, however, the squad is not exactly blessed with depth and quality this season.
The 4th round draw by Peter Schmeichel and Dion Dublin has seen United draw Burnley at home.
The important thing now is to beat Fulham at weekend and head into the World Cup break with some positivity.
Carabao Cup 4th round draw in full (ties set to be played on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd December)…
- Wolves vs Gillingham
- Southampton vs Lincoln
- Newcastle vs Bournemouth
- Manchester City vs Liverpool
- Manchester United vs Burnley
- MK Dons vs Leicester City
- Charlton Athletic vs Brighton and Hove Albion
- Blackburn Rovers vs Nottingham Forest
Next up for Ten Hag and United is Fulham away at Craven Cottage this Sunday, which is 13th December in the Premier League. After that, the World Cup commences, but there are some pre-season friendlies being lined up.