Manchester United clinched their first trophy in six years on Sunday after beating Newcastle United 2-0 in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
The trophy win underlines the incredible progression the club has made under Erik Ten Hag this season and will only add to the buoyant atmosphere that has been re-established by the Dutch manager since moving to Old Trafford.
Man United, who are still in the fight for Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League honours this term, have not won a trophy since 2016/17, when they claimed the League Cup and the Europa League under Jose Mourinho. However, Casemiro and a Sven Botman own goal were enough to end that rut today.
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And, given the feel-good factor surrounding the club, you wouldn’t bet against more silverware finding its way to Stretford soon.
Despite the defeat, it was far from one-way traffic and Newcastle started brightly, taking the game to the pre-match favourites from kick-off. In the opening minutes, Miguel Almiron marauded forward on the break, with four Newcastle players alongside him, but the Paraguyan’s final pass was a poor one.
Allan Saint-Maximin was then released down the left flank by Joelinton soon after and, after some neat build-up play with Almiron, tried to tee up Bruno Guimaraes but Fred was quick to make an important block and snuff out the threat.
Loris Karius, filling in for the suspended Nick Pope, cup-tied Martin Dubravka and on-loan Karl Darlow, was called into action for the first time when the ball found the path of Wout Weghorst. The Dutch forward managed to turn and find a shooting effort from 15 yards out but his effort was weak and easily saved by the German.
A deft Kieran Trippier cross almost found the head of Fabian Schar, but Lisandro Martinez was able to put the Swiss centre-back under enough pressure to see the ball go over the bar, although it resulted in a lengthy stoppage after both players were left needing treatment after a nasty collision of heads.
Casemiro, certainly no stranger to the big stage, broke the deadlock for Man United on the 34th minute, guiding a sublime header past Karius into the far corner. After a VAR check for offside gave the goal the green light, the Red Devils contingent at Wembley erupted.
Five minutes later, Man United doubled their lead after Weghorst put the ball into the path of Marcus Rashford. The forward’s following shot deflected off Botman and looped over Karius, leaving the previously thunderous Newcastle support shell-shocked.
The Magpies weren’t prepared to roll over and in the second half began to pile on some pressure in a bid to find some way back into the tie. Saint-Maximin in particular was a nuisance, while Martinez was forced into making a pivotal block to deny Joelinton.
No player in Europe’s top five leagues has more goals than Rashford since the World Cup break, and he nearly added to Newcastle’s woes when Marcel Sabitzer won the ball back in midfield and found space to release him. However, Karius was quick to dive to his right and deny Rashford’s right-footed shot with a smart save.
In the dying minutes, Jacob Murphy’s thunderbolt from 30 yards out had David De Gea rooted to the spot, but it flashed just past the post.
It was always going to be a cause for concern that this final came at a time when Newcastle’s form had become increasingly indifferent but Eddie Howe’s men certainly didn’t look out of place on the grand stage. Given their newly acquired vast wealth, silverware will almost certainly be heading to St James’ Park in the near future and finally put an end to their 54 year wait.
For Man United though, under Ten Hag the future’s brighter than it has been in a long, long time.
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