Wayne Rooney continues to misfire as Manchester United beat Northampton Town
EFL Cup, third round, Sixfields: Northampton Town 1 (Revell 42) Manchester United 3 (Carrick 17, Herrera 68, Rashford 75)
Manchester United eased to a much needed and well-earned win to knock Northampton Town out of the League Cup.
United started well, dominating possession thanks principally to the playmaking of Michael Carrick - and it was Carrick who opened the scoring, drilling home with precision when a Wayne Rooney free-kick was blocked to the edge of the box.
Manchester United's Michael Carrick celebrates scoring their first goal with team matesReuters
However, Northampton were encouraged when United could not add to their advantage, and after Kenji Gorre had diddled Tim Fosu-Mensah before clipping a shot against the bar, they went down the left again. United then failed to clear twice, and Sam Hoskins got to the ball ahead of Daley Blind, who left a foot in - over which he duly fell. Alex Revell stepped up, and marked his 500th professional appearance with a goal, smacking right as Sergio Romero dived left.
The second half started in much the same way as the first, with United in the ascendancy. But with 55 minutes gone, they had still not scored, so Jose Mourinho sent on Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and more or less immediately, United began to penetrate. First, Ander Herrera hit the post, and then, with 68 minutes gone, Rashford teed him up to send a stonking drive hurtling past Adam Smith.
Manchester United's Ander Herrera scores their second goalReuters
And, just seven minutes later, United sealed victory when Herrera lumped forward from halfway. It looked a routine clearance for Smith, but Rashford hared in front of him to block and put him off; he missed his kick, leaving Rashford to stroll to the line and thunder home from a yard.
TALKING POINT - WAYNE ROONEY
There is no reason whatsoever for him to retain his place for Saturday's game against Leicester. Given a free shot at making himself undroppable, he didn't take it. Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are far superior strikers, while Ander Herrera showed himself, once again, to be a far superior midfielder.
MAN OF THE MATCH - MICHAEL CARRICK
Absolutely bossed the match from beginning to end, and scored a superb goal.
Northampton Town's Alex Revell in action with Manchester United's Michael CarrickEurosport
Since making his debut, Marcus Rashford has been involved in more goals than any other Manchester United player, scoring 11 times and making four assists.
Marcus Rashford has now scored on his European, Premier League, League Cup and England (Senior and U21) debut.
Northampton Town: Smith 5, Moloney 5, Zakani 6, Diamon 6, Buchanan 6; Hoskins 7, McCourt 6, Beautyman 5, Gorre 6, Taylor 6, Revell 6. Subs: O'Toole 5, Potter 5, Richards 6.
17 - A back pass from Taylor misses out Diamond and Smith picks it up; free-kick to United, 12 yards out, left of centre. Memphis prepares to roll to Rooney....
18 - GOAL! Northampton Town 0-1 Manchester United (Carrick) Rooney's free-kick is predictably blocked, but the ball squirts out to Carrick on the edge of the box. With the various defenders busy elsewhere, he has space to drive a first-time pass into the top corner, falling away from it. Great finish.
38 - Rojo slides one through the middle for Rooney, but he can't catch up with it. And immediately, Northampton break, Taylor spreading wide for Gorre. He runs at Fosu-Mensah, coming inside then nipping outside, making him look very silly indeed - and he's in on goal! He shoots hard too, left-footed from 12 yards and left of centre, clipping the top of the bar!
41 - Northampton are playing with confidence now, and Buchanan and Taylor turn United's right flank. A cross comes in, and Rojo's header doesn't deal with it, allowing another chance as Fosu-Mensah dithers. The ball then flicks off Schneiderlin and Hoskins picks it up, moves it away from Blind with a quick touch, and falls as the challenge comes in - PENALTY!
42’ - GOAL! Northampton Town 1-1 Man United (Revell) Great penalty, slotted into the bottom right and Romero dives for the bottom left.