Manchester United twice came from behind to book their spot in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a 4-2 victory over Aston Villa on Thursday night.
The two sides met for the second time in five days following Villa’s 3-1 victory over United in the Premier League on Sunday, but entertainment of a similar standard was not forthcoming during a poor first half.
Neither side managed a shot on target with the hosts almost uninterested and the visitors lacking quality on the ball. Thankfully, the game exploded into life at the beginning of the second period with two goals in two minutes.
Jacob Ramsey charged forward brilliantly to play in Watkins down the left and the striker lifted his effort past Martin Dubravka – on debut between the United sticks – for a lead Villa would keep for mere moments.
The Red Devils hit back immediately as Diogo Dalot’s raking pass tore open Villa’s defence to find Bruno Fernandes who squared for Martial to finish well into the bottom corner.
Unai Emery’s side didn’t score their second as quickly as United responded to their first – it was a mammoth 12 minutes before Old Trafford saw the visitors go ahead at Dalot’s expense.
The Portuguese defender diverted Leon Bailey’s header beyond Dubravka from point-blank range, immediately rewarding Emery for a triple substitution he had made just two minutes earlier.
You’ll never guess what happened next, mind.
Having seen Emery’s gamble pay off, Erik ten Hag played a hand of his own with three substitutions and claimed his winnings five minutes later as Christian Eriksen caused some indecision in the Villa box. The ball broke past Calum Chambers and beyond the slipping Tyrone Mings, allowing Rashford to nip in, keep his cool and fire home the equaliser.
The turnaround from a painstakingly passive game to a delicious glass of Carabao seemed complete when Robin Olsen gave the ball straight to Alejandro Garnacho who fed Fernandes. The 28-year-old’s shot took a heavy deflection off Mings to leave Olsen flatfooted and send United into the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
Scott McTominay struck the bar late on and later secured his place on the scoresheet, running beyond Mings to poke in Garnacho’s cross.
GK: Martin Dubravka (6); RB: Diogo Dalot (5), CB: Victor Lindelof (7), CB: Harry Maguire (7), LB: Tyrell Malacia (8); CM: Scott McTominay (8), CM: Fred (6), AM: Bruno Fernandes (9), RW: Donny van de Beek (6), ST: Anthony Martial (7), LW: Marcus Rashford (8).
Subs: Alejandro Garnacho (8), Anthony Elanga (6), Christian Eriksen (8), Casemiro (N/A), Lisandro Martinez (N/A).
GK: Robin Olsen (5); RB: Ashley Young (6), CB: Ezri Konsa (6), CB: Calum Chambers (5), LB: Ludwig Augustinsson (5); CM: Douglas Luiz (6), CM: John McGinn (7), CM: Boubacar Kamara (6); RW: Jacob Ramsey (7), ST: Danny Ings (6), LW: Ollie Watkins (7).
Subs: Emiliano Buendia (6), Leon Bailey (6), Tyrone Mings (6), Matty Cash (6), Lucas Digne (6).