Manchester United have cruised through to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup after a comprehensive 4-1 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s early goal was cancelled out by Ashley Fletcher’s first goal for West Ham in the 35th minute.
Anthony Martial grabbed a brace in the second half while Ibrahimovic added a second in injury time to seal United’s safe passage through to the final four.
These two sides met in the Premier League on Sunday and that ended all square in a 1-1 draw, but it was the Red Devils who made an electric start to the cup tie with a goal inside two minutes. Wayne Rooney’s great pass allowed Henrikh Mkhitaryan to race at the West Ham defence and flick nicely for Ibrahimovic. The Swede was faced up the challenge of finishing from six yards out and made no mistake with a composed strike.
The former PSG man continued to be a thorn in West Ham’s side and could have doubled his tally seven minutes later. He carried the ball into the penalty spot and when his first shot was well saved, the rebound fell back to Ibrahimovic who was denied again by a wonderful diving block from Adrian. It was a terrific double save and helped West Ham from falling further behind in an early stage of the game.
United were definitely in the mood to score goals though and Martial wasted two great chances to double their lead in the first half. The first was blasted well over from 20 yards after leading a counter-attack up the field, while the second opportunity came from a tame effort and Adrian managed to make a simple save.
The misses were punished by Slaven Bilic’s side and their equaliser came from the man who signed from Manchester United in the summer. Fletcher never scored for United’s first team but grabbed his first goal for West Ham in front of the Stretford End. Dimitri Payet came inside onto his right foot and powered a low shot at goal, but David De Gea failed to keep hold of the effort and Fletcher pounced to level up the scores.
Despite the set-back, United started the second half like they did the first and retook the lead within three minutes. Payet was at fault for West Ham as he gave the ball away in a dangerous position and then stood and stared as Mkhitaryan raced past him into the penalty area. The Armenian squared the ball across the box where Martial was waiting to slam into the top corner from the penalty spot.
With the lead restored, United didn’t look back and dominated the rest of the game. Adrian denied both Martial and Ibrahimovic with good saves before the Frenchman gave Jose Mourinho’s side a two-goal gap. Ibrahimovic slipped in the attacking full-back Antonio Valencia and he managed to slide the ball across for Martial to slip in his second goal of the game.
Adrian tipped an Ibrahimovic shot around the post with ten minutes to go, but the Swede wouldn’t be denied a double as he wrapped up the win in the third minute of injury time. Ander Herrera did all the good work as he went past Angelo Ogbonna with a step-over and crossed low for Ibrahimovic to tap in to the delight of the home fans.
The win means United have reached their 14th League Cup semi-final, but Bilic will be really disappointed by West Ham’s collapse in the second half.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)