A late goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic won the EFL Cup for Man United against a hugely impressive Southampton.
Southampton started the brighter and had a goal controversially ruled out. Striker Manolo Gabbiadini poked home from close range, but the linesman gave offside against Ryan Bertrand who was not interfering at all and Gabbiadini was clearly onside. And United took an undeserved lead in the 19th minute through Ibrahimovic. He stepped up to a free-kick 25 yards out and stroked it beautifully past Fraser Forster, but it was within reach of Forster.
Jesse Lingard doubled the lead in the 38th minute. After some good build-up play, Marcos Rojo played it to Lingard, who calmly struck it into the bottom corner beyond Forster. Most people probably would’ve thought that United were going to go on to win comfortably, but Gabbiadini had other ideas. Moments before the end of the first half, he pulled a goal back. From a James Ward-Prowse cross, he poked the ball through the legs of David de Gea.
He equalised in the 48th minute with a great finish. United failed to clear a corner and the ball was crossed into the box. Gabbiadini on the turn shot the ball into the bottom corner. After the equaliser both teams had chances to score. But, it was Southampton who came the closest, as Oriol Romeu hit the post with a header from a corner. De Gea also saved from Dusan Tadic and James Ward-Prowse.
United had a really good chance as well. If Lingard had the same composure as he had when he scored he would’ve scored, but when the ball came to him at the back post, he put it over the bar. But, in the 87th minute, the hall came out to Ander Herrera on the right wing. He whipped in a great cross inviting Ibrahimovic to attack it and he headed in the winner for United.
It was a goal which cemented his cult status with United. It also shows what a fantastic job Jose Mourinho did in luring him to Old Trafford in possibly the best free transfer of all time. He took his tally to 26 goals for the season in this game and this was his first trophy since joining. This was Mourinho’s first success since his summer appointment, but it was a lucky one. United looked jaded as they were in Europa League action on Tuesday, while Southampton haven’t played for two weeks.
Southampton can be proud of this performance, but just fell short. Mourinho had a warm exchange with Claude Puel at the end of the game, as he must’ve known that his team were very lucky to come away with the win. Mourinho is now level with Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough as the most successful manager in the league cup after his fourth triumph.
Next up for United they are at home to Bournemouth on Saturday, the 4 March. Hopefully they can carry on their winning form and kick on in the league.