In Thursday’s 4-2 victory over Aston Villa, Bruno Fernandes sent Manchester United into the League Cup round of 16.
He did so by taking advantage of a mistake by Aston Villa goalkeeper Robin Olsen.
After falling behind twice in the third-round match at Old Trafford, Erik ten Hag’s group was in danger of losing to Villa for the second time in a week.
Ollie Watkins’ second-half goal allowed United to fall behind in their 3-1 Premier League loss to Villa last weekend. In Villa’s second game under new manager Unai Emery, Anthony Martial scored an equaliser, but Diogo Dalot’s own goal restored Villa’s lead.
After Olsen’s terrible pass went astray, Marcus Rashford scored United’s second equaliser, and Fernandes gave them the lead. In stoppage time, Scott McTominay sealed the victory.
Ten Hag had stated that he desired a “reaction” following United’s “inacceptable” loss at Villa Park.
The United manager finally got what he wanted, but not before Emery’s team gave him a scare. Since the Spaniard came from Villarreal to take the place of the fired Steven Gerrard, Emery’s team has played with more vigour.
“Happy with that resilience. That’s what we need and have to show every game. I was so disappointed and mad on Sunday because we didn’t fight,” Ten Hag said.
“Our two halves are never the same. Tonight we controlled the game in the first half by good pressing but then did the wrong things, so we missed a lot of opportunities.
“At half time we said keep the pressing but be more direct. I’m proud of the team we could do that. We are in the right direction but still a long way to go.”
Ten Hag would be thrilled to have the opportunity to end United’s trophy drought later this year. The League Cup remains United’s lone domestic trophy victory in 2017.
Since the last 16 games are scheduled to take place just days after the final in Qatar, he will have to wait until after the World Cup for United’s next League Cup match against Burnley.
Holders Liverpool will travel to face Manchester City in a highly anticipated round of 16 match, but both teams are likely to field youthful lineups in order to give their players extra time to recover after the World Cup.