Manchester United slumped to yet another semi-final loss after their poor display against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup. Goals from John Stones and Fernandinho condemned United to a 2-0 defeat ending their pursuit of a first trophy this season. United showed signs of exhaustion as their first choice squad fell to the blue side of Manchester.
While Ole was expected to rotate his squad, he went with his tried and trusted choices out on the field barring Dean Henderson- who continued his role as cup keeper. Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw, and Wan-Bissaka were the back 4. Fred, McTominay, Pogba, and Bruno were part of the midfield diamond with Rashford and Martial up ahead. Telles, Van de Beek, Greenwood, and James were among those on the bench.
Manchester City came out all guns blazing, immediately putting United on the backfoot. The hosts resorted to defending deep and hitting City on the break. Marcus Rashford broke free and lashed a shot on target, but he was adjudged offside. On the other end, Gundogan’s finish past Henderson was also ruled offside. Bruno Fernandes had a great curling effort from the edge of the box but was denied by the City goalkeeper. Kevin de Bruyne came close to breaking the deadlock as his shot hit the post. In a half that was marred with poor decision-making and many “almosts”, United were ruing chances.
Ruben Dias blocked Rashford’s effort in the 25th minute. The young forward has been a bit wasteful with his chances, and his chemistry with the midfield feels slightly off. As is the case with every game, Maguire got his head onto a corner but was unable to score. United had another fantastic chance in the 32nd minute but Rashford’s first touch let him down. United’s defensive shape was compact as they kept out several crosses and denied City’s strikers any touches in the box. However, City’s wingers had ample space and time to cross in as United’s wingbacks were caught out. Bruno had a chance in the dying moments of the first half but the Portuguese midfielder looked destined to have a poor game, as the attack fizzled out.
Both teams came out for the second half ready to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. However, City took the lead through a set-piece on the left-wing when Stones met Foden’s cross to nudge it past Henderson. Questions can be asked of Maguire for not clearing the ball, and also of Shaw who failed to stay with Stones. City almost doubled their lead moments later but Cancelo’s shot was high. City had a flurry of chances soon after, one drawing a good save from Henderson. Maguire headed another corner off target much to United’s frustration. Bruno Fernandes had another shot from distance which did not test City’s goalkeeper much. Bruno could have been subbed off at this point-giving him a much-needed break. However, it was Scott McTominay who went off, getting replaced by Greenwood.
United’s day went from bad to worse as City doubled their lead in the 83rd minute. Fernandinho’s effort from the edge of the box found its way through the crowd and inside the far post, giving Henderson no chance whatsoever. With the game done and dusted, City looked jubilant while United looked defeated. In a head-scratching decision, Ole brought on Van de Beek for Fred for a meager two minutes. Donny might have been better off coming on much earlier to replace Bruno or Pogba- who had poor games. A tough loss to their city rivals, but a lot more to play for this season.