Hot managerial takes to come. In the meantime, Peter Lansley’s report has landed. Here it is!
Lisandro Martinez was named man of the match, and speaks to Sky Sports. “I am really happy with the job of the guys. We played so well and controlled the game. But we have many things to improve. We lost the last game. We never give up. We have to keep going. We showed discipline. We were very focused. We have to always play like this, to keep going, to keep fighting. We deserved the result. It’s a good result for us, but we have to go step by step, we have another game, and we have to prepare again.”
Nottingham Forest contributed to an open, entertaining match. But the open bit was their undoing. They couldn’t take their chances, while United, who carved out a larger number of them, were more clinical with theirs. Forest have won all of their previous six League Cup semi-finals, against Leeds (1978), Watford (1979), Liverpool (1980), Bristol City (1989), Coventry City (1990) and Tottenham Hotspur (1992). Now needing a three-goal win in the second leg at Old Trafford just to force extra time, it doesn’t look like Manchester United (2023) will be extending that proud list. A fine night for United, who continue to go places fast under Erik ten Hag. They’re one competent 90-minute performance away from Wembley!
It’s only half time in this two-legged semi. But Manchester United have one foot and at least three toes in the final.
90 min +2: That was Fernandes’ 100th goal involvement for Manchester United.
90 min +1: The first of three added minutes passes by without incident. Three sides of the City Ground file out. The away section, no harm done, continues to party.
90 min: United go over to celebrate with their fans. An advertising hoarding collapses, fans pouring over it and falling into a heap. For a second the scene looks troubling. But fans, players and stewards alike seem to get the situation under control quickly, and it doesn’t look as though anyone’s hurt. Godspeed one and all.
Fernandes releases Pellistri down the middle with an exceptional reverse pass. Pellistri is stopped in his tracks this time by a fine Williams tackle. Prone, Williams tries to volley the ball away, but can’t get any purchase on the clearance. Elanga rolls the loose ball towards Fernandes, who threads a fine shot across Hennessey and into the bottom left!
88 min: United nearly score the third that would surely put this semi-final to bed at the halfway stage. Fred rolls the ball down the middle for Pellistri, releasing him into the box. Hennessey smothers at his feet. But no matter, because …
87 min: Another free kick to Forest, this time out on the right. Another chance to load the box. Another poor delivery from Williams. United clear their lines calmly.
86 min again: Lindelof loops a long pass down the right for Dennis to chase. Lindelof, United’s last man, sticks to his shoulder and eventually fends him off. Fine defending.
86 min: Weghorst, who opened his United account tonight with a fine striker’s goal, is replaced by Elanga.
85 min: Pellistri is booked. Then Williams floats the free kick over a packed six-yard box. What a waste.
84 min: Pellistri gifts Forest possession, then bundles Williams to the floor, just to the left of the box near the byline. Williams will take the free kick himself. Forest load the box.
83 min: Forest pin United back only for Dennis to needlessly clip Wan-Bissaka. The pressure released at a stroke. “JLingz is still a former United hero in my book,” writes Brendan May. “Maybe if he didn’t have eight managers during what should have been the prime of his career, he’d have fared better.”
81 min: Right now, Forest don’t look like grabbing a goal that would make their task at Old Trafford a little more realistic. The away fans in good voice.
79 min: Pellistri flashes a cross through the Forest box from the right. Weghorst heads wide left under pressure from Worrall. Good football all round.
78 min: Fred drops a shoulder to stride in from the left. He aims for the top right. Full marks for ambition. Goal kick.
76 min: Dennis plays an appalling blind square pass that offers Garnacho the opportunity to tear goalwards from the halfway line. Dennis will be thankful that his team-mate Aurier keeps on Garnacho’s shoulder before eventually dispossessing him and clearing. That could have been very costly for Forest.
74 min: Williams is immediately in the thick of it, driving down the left and floating into the box for current Forest legend Lingard. He eyebrows wide right for a goal kick, and probably should have left it to Johnson behind him.
73 min: Gibbs-White goes down injured, and walks off sadly. He’s one of two Forest players to depart, Lodi being the other. O’Brien and Williams come on in their stead.
72 min: Pellistri and Fred come on for Eriksen and Antony.
70 min: … nothing occurs. Meanwhile Conor Murphy would like to take issue with my description of Jesse Lingard as a “former United hero”, spluttering: “Are you off your rocker? He was hopeless. More interested in his JLingz celebration than becoming a better player. Come off it.” He won United’s last FA Cup for them, didn’t he? Jeez, tough crowd in tonight.
69 min: Antony and Eriksen combine down the right to win a corner. From which …
67 min: Antony glides in from the right before releasing Eriksen down the middle. Eriksen advances towards the left-hand corner of the Forest D before floating a diagonal ball towards Fernandes. McKenna reads the danger to get in the road and head behind for a corner, from which nothing comes.
65 min: Garnacho, caring not one jot for the home-crowd hollering, chases a lost cause down the left and cuts back for Eriksen, who whips in a cross from the left. Weghorst can’t quite meet it with a header. Anything on that, and the ball was surely flashing into the net. Weghorst claims a tug on his shirt by McKenna, and he may well have a point. But we play on.
64 min: Forest make a double change, replacing Scarpa and Surridge with Dennis and the former United hero Lingard.
63 min: A deep cross into the United box from the right. Scarpa meets it on the volley on the left-hand corner of the six-yard box. Wan-Bissaka blocks bravely out for a corner, from which nothing comes.
62 min: Garnacho gets involved in a couple of minor incidents, most notably kicking the ball away in frustration. No card, and he’s already become something of a pantomime villain for the home fans, who are giving him the what-for at every touch.
60 min: Gibbs-White fumes at the linesman over the award of a throw that was awarded to United. He uses that energy for good, chasing down the dozing Antony, stripping him of possession, and curling a shot towards the top left. The shot flies comfortably over the bar.
59 min: Forest respond by making their first change, replacing Danilo with Colback.
58 min: Rashford didn’t look in too much discomfort as he walked off. Winded, perhaps? A precautionary sub with his work done.
57 min: Fernandes tries to flick himself into space down the right, but Worrall chests out at the expense of a corner. Before it can be taken, Rashford – who moments earlier had gone down after taking a whack to the ribs – is replaced by Garnacho. Nothing comes of the corner.
55 min: Scarpa drives with purpose down the left. Antony comes flying in at a preposterous velocity. Any contact on his man and the referee might have been flashing a card, but thankfully he misses. Scarpa continues his run and curls into the United box. The ball breaks to Gibbs-White who tries a threader into the bottom left. De Gea collects with ease.
54 min: Antony works his way infield from the right and lays off to Eriksen, who opens his body and sidefoots a sensational curler towards the top-left … but the ball comes back off the bar. United come again and Rashford’s low drive is saved by Hennessey.
53 min: Gibbs-White knocks a header on for Johnson to chase down the inside-right channel. Lindelof is live to the danger and blooters clear. Forest come again, though, and Danilo attempts to forensically slot into the bottom right from 25 yards. Easy for De Gea.
51 min: Malacia works his way down the left and hooks back for Fernandes on the penalty spot. Fernandes skies an awful first-time shot miles into the air. Goal kick.
50 min: The pace drops a bit, which benefits United more than Forest, who aren’t exactly in the last-chance saloon yet, but wouldn’t half like something positive to happen sooner rather than later.
48 min: The corner’s half cleared. A bit of space for Fernandes on the right. He cuts back for Antony, who takes a fresh-air shot. A fast start to the second half by both teams.
47 min: Danilo loses possession cheaply, 30 yards from his own goal. Weghorst exchanges passes with Antony and shapes to shoot from the right-hand corner of the six-yard box. McKenna does well to arrive and block out for a corner.
46 min: Lodi crosses from the left. Surridge can’t quite get a head on the ball. Malacia sees it late and shanks out for a corner. Forest make nothing of the set piece, but they’ve come out flying.
Forest get the second half underway. No changes.
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There are three quarters of this tie still to be played. But it feels like United already have one foot in the final. Can Forest respond, or will United effectively decide this semi-final tonight? Big second half coming up!
45 min +1: That’s a huge blow for Forest, who had done extremely well to work their way back into the game, and were an inch or so away from equalising. But here we are. “Wembley! Wembley!” trill the away fans. The home support stunned.
Antony combines with Casemiro as he romps down the middle. On the edge of the D, he tees himself up and lashes towards the top right. Hennessey parries well, but the ball breaks to Weghorst, who sticks out a leg to whip across the keeper and into the left-hand side of the net. That’s a hell of a finish, a proper poacher’s goal, and his first for his new club!
44 min: It’s not been a banner 60 seconds for Fernandes, who shanks a ludicrous long-distance shot several yards wide right of goal. On the touchline, Ten Hag goes ballistic.
43 min: Fernandes, the last man, miscontrols under no pressure whatsoever. His mind elsewhere. He sharpens up quickly as Surridge knocks the ball past him and races after it. Fernandes recovers just in time to nudge the striker on the edge of the box, forcing him to clank the ball out for a goal kick./
42 min: Fernandes grooves down the right. He looks for Rashford at the far post with a deep curling cross. Too deep. It sails out for a goal kick.
40 min: Scarpa has a dig from the best part of 30 yards. A wee bit over-ambitious. The ball sails harmlessly over the bar. He had options to keep the attack going.
38 min: … and to illustrate that, Gibbs-White gets the better of Casemiro, nicking the ball off him. There aren’t so many who have been able to say that recently.
36 min: Forest have done well to get the crowd up again. Things were looking ominous for a while, but they’ve fought their way back into the game, which feels properly competitive now.
34 min: Antony’s miss won’t look great, but to be fair he’d instigated that move, one-twoing with Weghorst and Casemiro down the channel. Chances of sympathy from Jeff Sax? Absolutely zero. “Another Nunez -like miss,” he writes. “Incredibly similar.”
32 min: United ping the ball in pretty fashion down the inside-right. It’s moved infield for Antony, who is free on the penalty spot, the home defence having been pulled all over the show! Antony aims for the bottom right, only to be denied by Hennessey’s telescopic leg. What a save!