CARIUS: FIRST MATCH IN TWO YEARS
What Eric ten Hag is still a magician. A year ago, Manchester United were all but dead, and it was hard to seriously believe that they would be up to a trophy challenge. And now the Red Devils have taken the Wembley pitch in the League Cup final. However, while the Dutchman is being praised, one cannot fail to pay tribute to Eddie Howe, who pulls off a miracle for the Magpies, who have a much less stellar lineup. But Newcastle are already at the top of the Premier League table and are still there at Wembley.
As is often the case, in the middle of the season, teams rarely appear in optimal lineups. However, United’s mix of players was familiar. Only the presence of Wout Wegorst hurts the eye. Not on the pitch, but generally at Manchester United, but at the moment there is no other clean striker at the club. But changes on the right flank are exclusively ten Hag’s choice. In defense, he replaced Aaron Wan-Bissaka with Diogo Dalot, and in attack, Barcelona’s hero of the match, Anthony, who replaced Jadon Sancho.
Newcastle are known for their ability to dry out the game. It is true that lately the defense game has not been enough to score the maximum points in the Premier League: three draws and one defeat in the three previous rounds. Here, only the figure of the goalkeeper Loris Karius stood out, who did not have official competitive practices for two years. But Howe had no choice, as Nick Pope was shown red against Liverpool last weekend and Martin Dubravka had already played in this League Cup… for Manchester United.
In some ways, it is even symbolic that Karius entered the field for the first time in a long time exactly in the week that Alisson and Thibaut Courtois made an epic mistake. In addition, he immediately came out in the final match, the price of a mistake in which he is a trophy. Looking to the future, he did not know how to rescue the team at decisive moments, but he was not to blame for the goals conceded. The only achievement of him was that there was no defeat.
Casemiro takes action on the matter
Both teams are not spoiled for trophies. Manchester United last won the Europa League and the same League Cup six years ago, in 2017, while Newcastle in the 21st century never reached the final of any tournament, not even in the glorious days of Sir Bobby. Robson. And this responsibility crushed the players. The confrontation between the best defense and the best attack in English football left with a clear advantage over the former. For the time being.
In the first half hour, there were minimal events on both free kicks, and Newcastle looked even more interesting – they had more possession of the ball and hit the goal more often. And then Casemiro rolled up his sleeves. Overall, he is undergoing an amazing transformation at Old Trafford. The Brazilian said that English football is more complex and dynamic, with more transitions. At the same time, at Real Madrid, his functionality was limited to destruction, and at Manchester United, he began to attack much more often. This time he got to set pieces and headed home Luke Shaw’s shot.
The goal broke the “forty”. After just six minutes, they allowed the Mancunians what they had never allowed before. Marcus Rashford, having played a wall with Vegorst at high speed, jumped towards the goal at an angle and struck hard: the ball bounced off Sven Botman’s foot and went under the crossbar. A touch for the aesthetes – started the attack with a competent selection in midfield and a quick forward pass… Casemiro.
THE FIRST TEN HAG TROPHY IS IN MU!
Both coaches understood that a two-goal advantage would radically change their goals. Ten Hag replaced Dalot with Wan-Bissaka during the break, as he no longer needed active connections on the edge. The defender entered the game very aggressively, immediately organizing a four-on-two outing, screwed up by Weghorst, and a couple of times he went very clearly into the tackle. Howe, in turn, instead of midfielder Sean Longstaff released forward Alexander Isak and changed to 3-4-3.
Howe’s permutations worked even better. In the sense that his team not only had a lot of possession of the ball (in the second half, about 63%), but also periodically dangerously delivered the ball to the penalty area. Not all attacks ended in strikes, so the stats don’t seem powerful (3-6 in strikes in favor of Manchester United), but there were episodes where a broken pass was more dangerous than another strike. Thus, once David de Gea interrupted back pain in an empty net. True, from offside, but this does not detract from the goalkeeper’s fresh jump.
United, on the other hand, have clearly gone on the counterattack, and they also have something to make as arguments. For example, Marcel Zabitzer only needed ten minutes to connect two strikes, more than Saint-Maximin, who played base. It was especially difficult for Dan Byrne, who was twisted and turned by Anthony. So the “red devils” on counterattacks could well have brought the score in a big way, but they settled for a 2-0 victory, because for many players this is the first trophy with Manchester United. Included, of course, for ten Hag with Casemiro, whose arrival radically changed the level of the ‘red devils’, giving them back the ‘top’ prefix.
League Cup. The end
Manchester United – Newcastle United – 2:0 (0:0)
Goals: Casemiro, 33 – 1:0. Botman, 39 – in own network – 2:0.
Manchester United: De Gea, Dalot (Wan-Bissaka 46), Varane, Fox. Martínez, Shaw, Fred (Sabitzer 70), Casemiro, Anthony (Sancho 83), B. Fernandes, Rashford (Maguire 88), Wegorst (McTominay 70 ).
Newcastle United: Karius, Trippier, Cher, Botman, Burn, Longstaff (Isac 46), Guimaraes (Willock 79), Joelinton, Almiron (Anderson 90), Wilson, Saint-Maximin (Murphy 78).
Warnings: Dalot, 9. Fred, 37. Joelinton, 45+5. Casemiro, 87. Cher, 90+6.