After some hard-fought football over the past four days, Jose Mourinho’s men march on in Cup competition, reaching the EFL Cup Final and the final 16 of the FA Cup.
Juan Mata confirmed that “the last few days have been very emotional,” which may be the understatement of the season. His team’s 17-game unbeaten run was ended by the 2-1 defeat at Hull City, but United’s hopes “to keep lifting trophies and dedicate them to our fans” remained alive.
On Thursday, United booked a place in the EFL Cup final against Southampton, following a 3-2 aggregate win over Hull City. The team already held a 2-0 advantage over the Tigers going in to Thursday's semi-final second leg at the KCOM Stadium. And though the hosts won the night through Huddlestone's penalty and Niasse's late goal, Pogba's strike in between ensured The Red’s progress.
I’ve never been able to win [the EFL Cup] in my previous years in England, so I can’t be more motivated.Juan Mata
United will now face the Saints in the showpiece match at Wembley Stadium on Sunday February 26. The boys will be wearing their home kit so be sure to sport your best Manchester United red!
In the FA Cup, United are attempting to retain the trophy for the first time in the club’s illustrious history, having lifted the famous cup on 12 previous occasions and, most recently, in May 2016 following a dramatic 2-1 extra-time success over Crystal Palace at Wembley.
Getting there has been a tough job, but this year the Reds have continued to show us that they can get the job done.
On Sunday, Mourinho’s side faced a strong-willed and well-organized Wigan in a hard-fought opening period, but went into the break ahead 1-0 after a high-flying Fellaini header off a picture-perfect delivery from Schweinsteiger in the 44th minute.
"The first half wasn’t very good but you get games like that," Heinrikh Mkhitaryan told MUTV. "It was good to score when we did because then Wigan had to be more offensive and it left us with more space.”
In the second half, I felt we made the most of the space and we were able to score some goals.Heinrikh Mkhitaryan
And that’s exactly what happened. Buoyed by the Belgian’s opener, the Reds picked up where they had left off – on the front foot. After a number of chances, Martial carved out half a yard of space on the left, and delivered a well-flighted ball to Smalling at the far post, which the defender met well to head home. With Wigan remaining determined to attack, Mkhitaryan netted his fourth goal for the Reds in the 74th minute when he tapped home Martial’s cross after a fast break and some perfect play with the France international to make it 3-0 for United and put the result beyond any doubt. The icing on the cake was watching Bastian Schweinsteiger improvise an overhead kick from close range in the 81st minute to end the match 4-0 – his first goal at Old Trafford.
The Reds will now face Blackburn Rovers in the fifth round on Sunday February 19.
United now remain the only side in England to be fighting on four fronts – Premier League, EFL Cup, FA Cup, and Europa League – something that the boys are very focused on.
"We are taking all the competitions seriously," asserts Mkhitaryan. "For Manchester United, every cup is very important. A trophy is a trophy. It doesn’t matter if it is the League Cup, the FA Cup or the Europa League. We want to do our best to try and win them all."
We are hoping to keep lifting trophies and dedicate them to our fans.Juan Mata
We’ll be tuning in for the fifth round FA Cup match against Blackburn Rovers on February 19 and the EFL Cup final on February 26. Good luck United!
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