Manchester United booked their place in the Carabao Cup Quarter Finals after securing a 3-0 victory against Brighton on Wednesday evening. United made 10 changes from their win against The Seagulls on Saturday. They proved clinical in seeing off their opponents for the second time in three days. After what was a cagey affair for most of the first half, Scott McTominay headed United in front on the stroke of half-time. Goals in the second half from the impressive Mata and Pogba ensured United progressed with relative ease.
First Half Analysis
A much-changed United team made an unsurprisingly slow start to the first half against Brighton. Much like the game against Luton in the previous round, the team seemed to lack both intensity and quality. United placed two of their midfielders in deep positions. Thus they struggled to create much going forward due to the distance between the midfield and the attack. United’s midfielders were not able to move the ball quick enough through the lines. When balls were going forward they were either wildly over hit. Either that or the attackers were not able to hold the ball long enough to bring others in to play.
Luckily for United, Brighton struggled to pick up where they left off from their mightily impressive team performance on Saturday. Their performance, a little like United’s was no doubt compromised by the fact they made nine changes themselves. The home side did little to unsettle the United backline. A low, skidding shot from Jahanbakhsh forced Henderson low to save smartly. This was the only real danger caused by the home side in the first 45 minutes and was dealt with comfortably.
In the 18th minute, United came the closest to opening the scoring. Juan Mata cleverly squared the ball inside the box for Odion Ighalo who managed to get around the Brighton keeper only to see his effort hit the side netting from a tight angle. Two minutes before half-time and the game had its first pivotal moment.
A smart bit of play once again from Mata was enough to beat Dan Burn down the right hand side. The only way Burn could stop the Spaniard was to cynically foul him just outside the right side of the penalty area. Juan Mata recovered and took the subsequent free kick. He delivered a delicious ball in to the area and a powerful header from Scott McTominay met it to give the Scottish international his first goal since March. This was the perfect time for Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men to take the lead even though it may not have been necessarily deserved.
Second Half Analysis
The second half started much the same as the first, with United continuing to be ponderous and slow in possession. However It was Brighton manager Graham Potter who reacted first early in the second half with the introduction of two first team players, Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard. The latter must have thought he’d drawn his side level when he connected well with a low cross only to be denied by a world class save from Henderson. Like in the previous round, the England Goalkeeper coming up with the goods to keep United level.
Then United’s made a couple of substitutions and they proved decisive. Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford replaced Dan James and Odion Ighalo respectively. All of a sudden United’s performance improved greatly and on 72 minutes United doubled their lead. A ball from Fred straight in to the heart of Brighton’s defence was beautiful flicked on by Donny Van De Beek to Mata, who rounded off a fine performance by slotting home beautifully from close range.
United ended the scoring the way they started it in the 80th minute, with a free kick. This, a direct one though from Paul Pogba that took a deflection off Joel Veltman in the wall which left the keeper rooted to the spot as United took an unassailable 3-0 lead. United through to the quarter finals for the second consecutive year and another win at the Amex. They have now won on their last three visits to the home of The Seagulls, scoring three goals on each occasion.