Marcus Rashford scored again while Wout Weghorst scored his first goal for the club as Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg.
First-half goals from Marcus Rashford and Wout Weghorst and a late third from Bruno Fernandes at the City Ground mean only a miraculous turnaround in next week’s second leg will prevent United from making the League Cup final at the national stadium next month.
Rashford’s strike was a moment of individual brilliance as he ran 50 yards and converted, Weghorst celebrated his first goal for the club since his loan move from Burnley as Fernandes effectively killed the equalizer to the death.
The victory put United on the brink of returning to Wembley for their first domestic masterpiece since defeat in the 2018 FA Cup Final and Erik ten Hag will have a chance to end the club’s trophy drought, which dates back to 2017. firmly in his sights in his first season at Old Trafford.
Forest, whose League Cup history is almost as rich as United’s with four titles in 12 years under Brian Clough, will see this as a missed opportunity to go to Old Trafford next week with something to hold on to.
They had a good period in the first half in which Sam Surridge had a goal disallowed and Morgan Gibbs-White and Brennan Johnson had decent chances.
But Ten Hag’s side cruised to victory on the banks of the Trent and will look February 26 in their calendars for a day at Wembley, while Forest will have to channel their former manager Clough into hopes of a miracle.
The sides famously met in the 1992 League Cup Final at Wembley, which United won thanks to Brian McClair’s goal, and the current crop has shown they are keen to return this year.
Ten Hag called his side as hard as possible and were rewarded with an early lead as Rashford’s sublime form continued with a brilliant individual goal.
The England international, who has scored in the previous three rounds of this competition, picked up the ball in his own half, carried it across the pitch, charged between Joe Worrall and Remo Freuler before beating Wayne Hennessey all ‘height send.
It was his tenth goal in 10 games since the second half after the World Cup and his form was the driving force behind United’s impressive run of results.
There were more goals for the catch in a dominant start for the visitors, but Antony twice deflected the post from good positions after cutting in from the right.
Forest had been overrun within the first 15 minutes, but rallied and thought they had equalized in the 23rd minute.
A brilliant counter-attack saw Gibbs-White feed Sam Surridge, who produced a fine first-time finish into the bottom corner.
However, he was ruled out after the VAR discovered Surridge’s knee was offside.
Forest to their credit didn’t let that disappointment affect them and they kept going and had chances to equalise.
David de Gea made a volley save to clear Gustavo Scarpa’s volley from the edge of the box, then came down well to stop a Gibbs-White attempt before watching Johnson fire after passing a pair of United tackles .
Having soaked up that pressure, United got a killer second goal on the stroke of half-time.
They maneuvered the ball deftly from back to front and, after Hennessey deflected Antony’s shot, Weghorst struck first to fire home the rebound and break up his United duck.
The hosts struggled to recreate the verve they displayed in the first half and United kept them at arm’s length.
Indeed, it was the visitors, who won 8-1 in their last trip to the City Ground in 1999, who strengthened their hold on the equalizer as, after Christian Eriksen had hit the bar earlier, Fernandes drilled home a low shot in the 89th minute.
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