After an excruciatingly long wait, everyone’s favorite cup competition has finally returned. The rebranded Carabao Cup, formerly known as the EFL Cup, Carling Cup, Capital One Cup, Coca Cola Cup, and the English League Cup, kicked back off this week. Manchester United faced Championship side Burton Albion at Old Trafford in the 3rd round of the competition.
In a shock to nobody, Mourinho made many changes to the usual starting XI. Romero came in for De Gea, as the Argentine tends to do for cup matches. Lindelof and Smalling were the centerbacks, as Lindelof gets another chance to acclimate to the English game. Lukaku was given a rest, which opened up the opportunity to Rashford to play up top as a striker.
To be fair to Burton, they also made several changes, as the club prioritized their promotion campaign in the championship.
United took no time to establish dominance over the Championship side. Carrick found Lingard, who laid it off for Rashford. The youngster made no mistake, and hit it past the goalkeeper into the back of the net. Within 3 minutes, United were in the lead.
Burton began to force the ball out wide to veteran winger Dyer. He won a foul at the edge of the box, and the resulting cross was poorly dealt with by Romero. Thankfully, Blind was able to bail out his keeper and clear the ball out of danger.
Rashford continued to excel at the striker position, and grabbed another goal. Blind found him at the top of the box with a good pass. Rashford turned by his marker, and rifled a shot off the near post and in. It was the 2nd goal in 20 minutes, and killed the game off before Burton could start to believe.
United kept on the pressure, and started to play with some feel freedom. Blind found Martial out wide, who hit it into the middle toward Mata, but his close range effort was saved by the Burton keeper.
The Burton keeper was forced into another quality save soon after. This time, Mata found Martial, but his shot was saved as well.
Burton almost hit United on the break right after. A long ball was poorly defended by Lindelof, and it fell to the Burton striker. He found his teammate in space, but Romero was quick off his line to prevent United from conceding.
United really began to turn on the style. Mata nutmegged a defender at the top of the box, but his shot hit off of the near post. Darmian picked up the ball, and dinked it to the back post. Martial went for a spectacular side bicycle kick, but it was blocked by a Burton defender.
Manchester grabbed a 3rd before the end of the first half. Martial danced around a couple of defenders, before laying it off to Lingard at the top of the box. His shot deflected off a defender, and rolled right back the Burton keeper into the back of the net. For the goal to come off a deflection was harsh for Burton, but United definetly deserved the goal.
To start the 2nd half, United subbed off Juan Mata. Taking his place was Luke Shaw, returning from injury. It was a great sight for United fans to see Shaw back on the pitch. In a cruel twist of fate, Luke Shaw scored soon after being subbed on, but the goal was incorrectly ruled offside.
After several chances, Martial finally got his goal. A quick give and go with Rashford put the Frenchman through on goal, and he made no mistake, slotting it past the Burton keeper. It was a goal that was worthy of the performance, as Martial routinely danced around his markers.
Scott McTominay came on for Marcus Rashford, which was a logical substitution. Rashford will still be needed at the weekend, and McTominay gets invaluable match time.
Another academy product was subbed on, as keeper Joel Pereira came on for Romero.
United could not hold on to the clean sheet. With the last kick of the game, Burton found the back of the United net. A header hit the crossbar, but the rebounded was converted by Dyer.
All in all, it was an easy day at the office for United. Dominance was established early, and the game was killed off before any Burton fans could start dreaming of an upset. Rashford showed he can lead the line as a striker, and Martial continued to be a human highlight reel. Some squad players got much needed gametime, and some youngsters got valuable minutes with the first team. Mourinho will be annoyed about the late goal, as it was the first conceded by United at Old Trafford.
Manchester United return to the Premier League on Saturday, traveling to St. Mary’s to face Southampton.