Manchester United defeated Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the first leg of their semifinal on Wednesday at the City Ground, putting them within striking distance of a spot in the Carabao Cup final.
Marcus Rashford scored a solo goal to maintain his hot streak, and Wout Weghorst converted a straightforward rebound to score his first goal for the team since joining on loan from Burnley, giving United the lead at the start and end of the first half.
Forest, who are trying to reach their first League Cup final since 1992, performed admirably, although they were unable to capitalize on numerous promising attacks. And Bruno Fernandes’ goal in the 89th minute ensures that the second leg is surely no more than a formality for Man United to secure a trip to Wembley.
Another excellent starting lineup, featuring Casemiro returning from the suspension he served in Sunday’s Premier League loss to Arsenal, demonstrated Erik Ten Hag’s ambition to make the most of the opportunity to win a trophy in his first season in command at Old Trafford.
The visitors seized the lead after only six minutes thanks to another goal from Rashford. This time, the England forward did all the work on his own goal. From inside his own half, he advanced down the left before cutting inside between two Forest players and shooting with his left foot at the near post.
Rashford scored his 10th goal in his last 10 games—the most of any player in Europe’s top five leagues—since the World Cup.
Despite making that early surrender, Forest didn’t back down and numerous times came very close to tying the score. A constant menace to the United defense, Brennan Johnson’s quickness allowed him to force a low save from David de Gea and later shoot over the bar when his composure failed him at the very end.
The hosts believed they had equalized in the 23rd minute when a lightning-fast move ended with Sam Surridge scoring, but a VAR review determined he had been offside.
United then seized a potentially important second just before halftime. By forcing Forest goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey to block Antony’s well-placed shot, who had already had one decent opportunity turned away, Weghorst was able to touch the ball into the net to start his United account.
In the second half, the plot remained the same. When Christian Eriksen fired a first-time attempt against the crossbar, United came dangerously close to upping its lead to 3-0. The energetic Morgan Gibbs-White won the ball just outside the box and blasted wildly off target, leaving Forest to once again lament their lack of finishing touch.
The late goal by Fernandes, which he drove in low from just inside the box, may have been harsh on Forest, but it will undoubtedly send Man United to Wembley in search of their first major trophy in six years.