Carabao Cup | 20 September 2017 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 54,256 | Scorers: Rashford 5, 17, Lingard 37, Martial 58; Dyer 90+1
Manchester United began the defence of the League Cup with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Championship strugglers Burton Albion.
Marcus Rashford netted an early double and Jesse Lingard added another put United three goals to the good at the break, before Anthony Martial slotted home on the hour mark to complete the rout, though Lloyd Dyer did hammer in a late consolation strike for the visitors.
The Reds flew out of the blocks and Rashford was on hand to open the scoring after just five minutes. After being found in acres of space following Lingard’s flick-on, the England striker was able to clip past Connor Ripley in the Burton goal.
United broke again just moments after the opener and, had it not been for Ben Turner’s sliding block, Lingard would have doubled his side’s lead.
However, it did not take long for the Reds to extend the advantage as, after a brief period of possession, Rashford picked up Daley Blind’s pass, turned away from his marker and whipped in with only 17 minutes on the clock.
Juan Mata and Martial both missed good opportunities to score, before the Brewers nearly caught United on the break, though, after Luke Varney’s driving run into the box, Joe Mason’s chip was well saved by Sergio Romero.
Nevertheless, the Reds’ pressure was relentless and Mata struck the post after a tangle with Turner, which allowed Matteo Darmian to pick up the rebound and clip in a ball for Martial to attack in acrobatic fashion, but his effort was blocked.
Martial, who proved a major thorn in the Burton side, played his part in United’s third goal of the night. After turning Tom Naylor inside out, he found Lingard in space on the edge of the box and the no.14’s deflected effort left Ripley helpless.
Jose Mourinho’s men immediately took control of possession and territory in the second period, and Burton had barely left their half by the time Martial netted the Reds’ fourth, as he calmly slotted home after latching onto Rashford’s through-ball.
The Frenchman had another golden chance as the game entered its final 10 minutes but, after being slipped in by Lingard, he was unable to find the far corner and his effort zipped inches wide. And in the closing moments, Martial saw a free-kick clip the side-netting, as he attempted to double his personal tally on the night.
Youngsters Scott McTominay and Joel Pereira were both given minutes by Mourinho in the second half, which proved to be a relatively quiet affair; although United’s forwards continually threatened, they were unable to further Burton’s misery.
The visitors did perhaps have the last laugh, though, as Dyer thumped home a consolation goal in injury time after picking up the ball in space, following a scramble in the box.
United: Romero (Pereira 78); Darmian, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind; Carrick (c), Herrera; Lingard, Mata (Shaw 45), Martial; Rashford (McTominay 64).
Substitutes not used: Jones, Young, Fellaini, Lukaku.
Burton Albion: Ripley; Naylor, Flanagan, Turner (Warnock 45); Akpan (Akins 77), Allen (Murphy 45), Lund, Palmer, Dyer; Varney (c), Mason.
Substitutes not used: Campbell, McFadzean, Akins, Sordell, Scannell.
Booked: Akpan 42, Warnock 71.
Strength in depth
Despite the fact Mourinho made nine changes to his side to face Burton, the Reds were utterly dominant from the first minute, and players who had not previously seen many minutes made strong claims to start at Southampton on Saturday. Carrick and Herrera were both flawless in the middle of the park, shielding their defence, and starting attacks with consummate ease. Meanwhile, Lindelof and Smalling both put in assured performances in the heart of defence and were rarely troubled by the Brewers’ forward line.
Pace to burn
The attacking trio of Martial, Lingard and Rashford was truly a sight to behold. All three players are blessed with great pace and dribbling ability, and it was on show for all to see on Wednesday night. The crowd rose in anticipation each time one of them was in possession and, of course, their threat was not merely consequential as all three of them found the back of the net.
The left-back looked an assured figure in both attack and defence after his entry immediately after the break. Shaw had the ball in the net just minutes after coming on, only for his strike to be ruled out for offside, though he later provided several dangerous balls for his team-mates to attack. And in defence, he made two perfectly timed tackles on the edge of his own box to bring a rare Albion attack to a halt.
What’s next for United?
Saturday’s match sees United travel south to face Southampton, where the Reds will look to continue the unbeaten start to the Premier League, and even put some daylight between themselves at Manchester City at the top of the table.