Two goals from Marcus Rashford sent Manchester United through to the Carabao Cup Quarter-Finals here at Stamford Bridge, last night. Sadly United’s win ended our recent seven match winning streak, but the positive continuity of youthful experience and exuberance was gained by our young team, as they showed glimpses of what we can look forward to, not only in the near future, but also in seasons to come. Our starting eleven contained Reece James (19), Marc Guehi (19), Billy Gilmour (18), Callum Hudson-Odoi (18) and Christian Pulisic (21) only Willy Caballero at 38 years of age blew our average age out of the water, however, a team with an average age of just over 24 gave us something to smile at, even after a defeat. Not only did those five start, but we could also call upon Mason Mount (20) and Tammy Abraham (22) as second half substitutes.
With United recently winning in Belgrade, in the Europa League and on Sunday at Norwich in the Premier League, Solskjaer continued with a 3-5-2 formation, which was born out of frustration, after United set up not to lose against Liverpool recently. The 3-5-2 became more of a 5-4-1 when United went ahead, just to bore the life out of everyone watching. They scored when Marcos Alonso gave the ball away to Daniel James; in running back towards the penalty area, Alonso caught James and a penalty was awarded. After having his penalty saved by Tim Krul on Sunday, Marcus Rashford stepped up again but this time he deceived Caballero by sending him the wrong way to make it 0-1.
On the balance of play, United deserved to be ahead, but Chelsea through Reece James combining with Callum Hudson-Odoi down the right troubled their defence after they’d scored. However, Romero wasn’t tested during the first half and we went in at half time a goal down. Last season, Derby with Frank Lampard in charge knocked United out in the Third Round, but that wasn’t going to be repeated here. Michy Batshuayi gave us hope with just under half hour to go when he ran on to a long Caballero ball; Batshuayi held off the United defence, ran and shot past Romero to make it 1-1. Prior to the goal, two decent Hudson-Odoi efforts went begging, but at 1-1 we were back in the game.
However, just as we looked on top, Pedro conceded a free-kick in the 73rd minute 30 yards out to the centre of the goal. The resulting free-kick was a rocket of a shot from Rashford, which flew into the top left hand corner to give United a 1-2 lead and eventually their passage to the Quarter-Finals.
Caballero; Alonso, Zouma, Guehi, James; Kovacic, Gilmour (Mount 70), Jorginho; Pulisic (Pedro 70), Batshuayi (Abraham 78), Hudson-Odoi
Referee: Paul Tierney