Manchester United beat City to enter League Cup quarters
MANCHESTER: Midfielder Juan Matas second-half strike in a win over holders Manchester City proved enough to book Manchester United’s place in the English Football League (EFL) Cup quarter-finals.
The Spaniard’s intelligent finish soon after the break ensured United exacted revenge for last month’s defeat to City in the Premier League by taking the bragging rights in a lively 173rd Manchester derby at the Old Trafford ground here on Wednesday.
United will now face fellow Premier League rivals West Ham United at home next month.
United coach Jose Mourinho made four changes from Sunday’s 0-4 defeat against Chelsea as Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick and Mata came in for Chris Smalling, the injured Eric Bailly, Marouane Fellaini and Jesse Lingard.
In contrast, opposite number Pep Guardiola made nine alterations — only captain Vincent Kompany and Leroy Sane kept their places from their 1-1 draw with Southampton in the Premier League last weekend.
City began in a menacing mood and, within the first minute, forward Kelechi Iheanacho almost scored but couldn’t direct his close-range header on target from a Jesus Navas cross.
They continued to threaten and claimed for a penalty on 10 minutes when Aleix Garcia stumbled in the box under pressure from United captain Carrick but referee Mike Dean ignored the appeals.
United struggled to trouble the City defence early on but star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic caused panic with a 20-yard free-kick, which deflected behind for a corner, after Mata was brought down by City defender Nicolas Otamendi.
Both teams, however, lacked the cutting thrust in their attack to open each other up.
Ibrahimovic saw a shot deflected over the crossbar. At the other end, Iheanacho then looked to have a similar clear run but Rojo charged across to make a fine intervention.
Neither side could make the breakthrough in a closely-contested first half.
United continued to apply pressure and got the decisive opening goal in the 54th minute.
Ibrahimovic’s cutback fell on the path of Mata who kept his composure to stroke home into the bottom corner of the net.