So near yet so far. Wembley Stadium that is. United faced an uphill battle to reach the Carabao Cup showpiece at Wembley in March after their chastening 3-1 home defeat to Pep Guardiola’s men in the semi-final first leg three weeks ago. Having so many injuries to top players certainly did not help. Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay remain sidelined, while another big hurdle to overcome from the first leg was the absence of injured Marcus Rashford. United were looking to better their 2-1 league victory at the Etihad in December, when United had then counter-attacked with devastating success against their city foes. A two goal advantage would have taken the tie to penalties.
In the end United could only find the net once, thanks to Nemaja Matic. United had other chances in the second half, with Harry Maguire heading over and Anthony Martial bringing a low save from Bravo. Fred also hit his free kick into the wall.
To the credit of United’s defence, they did manage to stop their neighbours from scoring. Only Wolves had done that in any game this season and that was back in October. Otherwise in the other 36 games in all competitions, Manchester City had always found the back of the net. Credit has to be given to Man of the Match David de Gea. The Spaniard made several superb saves at the Etihad and twice denied Sergio Aguero in the first period with full-length stops, while he also was forced to come flying off his line just before the break to steal the ball away from the feet of City’s no.10, who was bearing down on goal. On top of this, David reacted superbly to repel Riyad Mahrez’s fierce drive after just eight minutes. Our no.1 again demonstrated his razor-sharp reactions and made the instinctive stop after the ball flicked off a United defender en route to goal.
United announced in the hours before kick-off that an agreement for Bruno Fernandes had been reached. United fans hope to see him play in United’s next game, at home to Wolves on Saturday.
So it is Manchester City who go to Wembley.. They are just the third side to reach three consecutive League Cup/EFL Cup finals after Liverpool (four in a row between 1981 and 1984) and Nottingham Forest (1978 to 1980).
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