Manchester United won their first major trophy under Jose Mourinho as a late goal by star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic secured the EFL Cup after a dramatic final where Southampton dominated for large periods. After a spell of early Saints’ pressure, United grabbed the opener via Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s brilliant free-kick.
The lead was doubled against the run of play when Jesse Lingard continued his fine Wembley form with a perfectly placed shot into the bottom corner. New Saints signing Manolo Gabbiadini’s predatory strikes either side of half-time deservedly brought Claude Puel’s side back level, before Zlatan’s late, late header from the edge of the 6-yard box broke Saints’ hearts and gave Mourinho his fourth League Cup in as many final appearances.
Here are the player ratings from a memorable finale at Wembley:
David de Gea: 6/10
de Gea made a couple of impressive saves in the first half and had to make a few clearances from back-passes under pressure from Southampton’s frontmen.
Antonio Valencia: 6/10
Valencia struggled against the pace of Bertrand throughout the game, but did make a number of decent runs up the field when his side had possession.
Chris Smalling: 6/10
Smalling was vulnerable in set-pieces, failing to track his marker on a few occasions to allow Southampton to win the second and third balls inside the box.
Eric Bailly: 6/10
Like Smalling, Bailly too displayed uncertainty while defending set-pieces but improved in the final quarter of the game as United began to see more of the ball.
Marcos Rojo: 6/10
Rojo had a first half to forget, as he was constantly outpaced by Soares around the byline to concede goal-scoring opportunities. However, he did become provider for United’s second goal, finding Lingard in space. In the second half, he played with more conviction, helping his side clear dangerous balls delivered into the box.
Ander Herrera: 7.5/10
Herrera was immense for United, winning duels in midfield and helping the team drive forward in order to counter the wave of Southampton attacks. He provided the crucial assist for Zlatan’s last-gasp winner.
Paul Pogba: 6/10
Pogba lost possession multiple times in midfield and failed to mark Romeu, who headed a corner against the post with the scores 2-2. The usual pinpoint pass to locate an advancing forward was missing from his locker today.
Jesse Lingard: 7/10
Lingard did exceptionally well to run into space and slide in United’s second goal through the legs of Maya Yoshida and out of Fraser Forster’s reach. He used his pace to good effect – helping United retreat from their penalty area in order to stop a resurgent Southampton in the first half and in the early minutes of the second half.
Juan Mata: 5/10
Mata failed to make an impact on the game and was substituted at half-time.
Anthony Martial: 6/10
Martial found the Southampton defence difficult to glide past with his fleet-footedness. He created just one good opportunity in the second half by feeding Marcus Rashford, whose shot from a tight angle was saved.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 9/10
Big players turn up in big games and Zlatan was a perfect example at Wembley. In an average United performance, he delivered what really mattered – the goals – one from an exquisite free-kick and the other from an Ander Herrera cross in the nick of time to seal the EFL Cup within 90 minutes.
Michael Carrick – 6/10
His introduction at half-time provided some much-needed security for the back four and ensured that Southampton’s chance creation from open play was lessened.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
Rashford came on with 13 minutes left and had one opportunity to score – from a Martial pass – but the angle was too tight.
Marouane Fellaini: N/A
The Belgian was introduced moments after Zlatan’s decisive goal.
Fraser Forster: 6/10
The Saints goalkeeper could not be personally faulted for any of the goals that went in and did well to punch away a fierce Pogba shot early in the game.
Cedric Soares: 7/10
Cedric gave Rojo an absolute nightmare on the wing in the first half, outrunning him and providing dangerous crosses into the box for Gabbiadini and Tadic to pounce upon. He also had to do the job of keeping Martial at bay in his defensive area.
Maya Yoshida: 8/10
Yoshida was absolutely phenomenal for Southampton at the back, clearing away crosses, making pinpoint last-ditch challenges and reading attempted through-passes. His failure to lay down a marker on Zlatan for the winner strikes him down.
Jack Stephens: 7/10
A yellow card for a studs-up tackle late in the first half was probably a lenient decision for Stephens. His performance despite that was impressive, making vital clearances and beating Zlatan in most aerial duels apart from the one with which the 35-year-old scored and decided the game.
Ryan Bertrand: 7.5/10
The left back was devastating up the pitch, slaloming past Valencia and giving his side promising opportunities to score. Defensively, he ensured that Mata was never allowed to put a foothold on the game.
Oriol Romeu: 6.5/10
An early yellow card meant that Romeu had to curb his aggression, but he still managed to win back possession for the Saints with his energy and commitment to sensible tackles.
Steven Davis: 6.5/10
Davis complemented Romeu and made a few decent interceptions to foil United attacks.
James Ward-Prowse: 7.5/10
Ward-Prowse’s performance deserves much praise, steaming into the heart of the United defence with purpose and intensity, delivering threatening crosses to test their defence and also winning the ball back in the attacking third itself to put United back on the backfoot. He found Gabbiadini for the Saints’ first goal and could have scored himself before that, only to see his shot saved by de Gea.
Dusan Tadic: 7/10
Tadic played an important No.10 role behind the striker Gabbiadini, getting a number of chances to send the Italian through while also feeding the wingers on either side. His thumping strike from the edge of the box was excellently parried away by de Gea.
Nathan Redmond: 7/10
Redmond’s pace and trickery on the ball caused Valencia a number of problems on the flanks and in the byline region.
Manolo Gabbiadini: 8.5/10
The January signing continues to shine for his new club, scoring his fourth and fifth goal in only his third appearance for the Saints. Apart from the goals, his overall play was excellent, holding up the ball on the edge of the box and timing his movements to absolute perfection in order to have a shot at goal. Smalling and Bailly were always up against it with the Italian striker in red-hot form.
Sofiane Boufal: 6/10
A like-for-like replacement for Tadic, Boufal made a couple of marauding runs into the United defence, but could not convert those into viable goal-scoring chances.
Shane Long: 5/10
He replaced Gabbiadini late in the game and was given a great opportunity by Bertrand to score, but was unable to apply the finishing touch.
Jay Rodriguez: N/A
The forward was thrown on in an eventually futile attempt to force the tie into extra-time.Published 27 Feb 2017, 09:11 IST