Manchester United 2-0 Nottingham Forest (5-0 agg): Red Devils in final
Manchester United will face Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final after Erik ten Hag’s side comfortably beat Nottingham Forest to book their place at Wembley.
Last week’s 3-0 victory in the semi-final first leg at the City Ground all-but assured the Red Devils a spot in the February 26 showpiece and the chance to end the club’s worst trophy drought in 40 years.
United dominated Wednesday’s second leg and substitute Anthony Martial eventually broke the deadlock before Fred wrapped up a 2-0 win, seeing them triumph 5-0 on aggregate.
The reward was a trip to the capital to take on Newcastle as summer appointment Ten Hag looks to lead the Red Devils to their first silverware since lifting the Europa League in 2017.
Progress to the Carabao Cup final had never been in doubt after the first fixture but it was not until the 73rd minute that United made their dominance count as Martial marked his return to fitness with a goal.
Fred turned home from close range three minutes later to wrap up their 12th straight home win in all competitions — a victory deadline-day signing Marcel Sabitzer watched from the stands.
Another positive on a great night for United was Jadon Sancho’s return, with the winger receiving a brilliant reception as he made his first appearance since October 22.
Forest attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard was himself denied a warm Old Trafford reception after sustaining an injury in the warm-up, leading Emmanuel Dennis to be parachuted into the side.
The match got off to a far slower pace than last Wednesday’s meeting on the banks of the Trent and it took 17 minutes for either side to produce a shot.
Wayne Hennessey comfortably dealt with an Antony curler — a chance that came shortly after referee Peter Bankes waved away Alejandro Garnacho’s penalty appeals against Neco Williams.
Casemiro met a free-kick with a header back across goal that Hennessey saved with his right foot and Antony sent a fizzing strike from 25 yards just over as a drab half began to show signs of life.
Forest, backed by their raucous away support, were creating precious little and Brennan Johnson should have done better than shooting straight at Tom Heaton.
Dennis’ close-range volley was inadvertently blocked by team-mate Sam Surridge in Forest’s only other chance in an opening period that nearly ended with a United goal.
Casemiro did well to get a cross over under pressure and Wout Weghorst got away a header that came back off the far post.
The second half continued with United in control and there were bellows for a penalty in the 55th minute when Weghorst was caught by Scott McKenna when attempting to clear.
The VAR did not intervene at that point but did soon review an off-the-ball incident between Johnson and Garnacho for a potential red card.
The latter soon showed quick feet and saw a near-post shot saved before being withdrawn in a triple United change that saw Sancho return.
The 22-year-old received a fantastic reception, with his name chanted by the Old Trafford faithful — just as it had been when he warmed up for the first time.
Casemiro headed wide and saw a low effort saved as United pushed to go ahead, which they finally managed to do 17 minutes from time.
Marcus Rashford saw an attempt blocked by McKenna and the ball fell kindly for fellow substitute Martial to fire into the bottom right-hand corner.
United’s second followed within three minutes. Bruno Fernandes’ exceptional ball from the right flank to the far post was turned back across goal by Rashford for Fred to nudge home.
Forest’s hardy fans continued to cheer their side on and saw Danilo denied by a brilliant Heaton stop as the clock wound down.
Fernandes fizzed across the face of goal at the other end as United’s progress was confirmed.