EFL Cup Final 27/2/17
All roads led to Wembley on a wet Sunday afternoon where Manchester United and Southampton would compete for the EFL Cup.Serial winner Jose Mourinho came up against Saints‘ manager Claude Puel.
The Saints started fast as they looked to take an early advantage in this one. It only took them 11 minutes, as Cedric’s low cross into the box found January signing Manolo Gabbiadini who tapped home for what everyone thought was the opening goal. However, the linesman had his flag up for offside. The offside ruling was a questionable decision to say the least, it appeared Redmond was offside however, the goalscorer Gabbiadini was clearly onside. Only 8 minutes after the controversial decision, United won a free kick after a bad tackle from Romeu. The free kick was taken by none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A stunning free kick straight over the wall into the top corner to make it 1-0. With the opening goal conceded, Southampton began to grow into the game but it wasn’t enough as they could only force De Gea into some key saves not finding a way through. With one more opportunity on the attack, United manage to double their lead to make it 2-0. A well placed goal from Jesse Lingard into the bottom corner capped off an excellent attacking move for the Red Devils. However, the first half action wasn’t over just yet. Sensational new boy Gabbiadini popped up again scoring past De Gea, after another Ward-Prowse cross he puts the ball through De Gea’s legs to give his team a lifeline and make it 2-1 just before half time. Southampton started the second half exactly how they started the first with a relentless attacking style. This paid off almost immediately as Gabbiadini scored once again to level the scores at 2-2. United fail to defend the Southampton attack on 48 minutes. As the ball drops, Gabbiadini volleys home a beautiful goal. The second goal really rattled United as they struggle to find a way through. Both teams went back and forth with Southampton even hitting the post. Lingaard also had a chance to win but he only managed send his volley over the bar. A late goal settled the game as once again Zlatan popped up again this time with a header straight into the back of the net making it 3-2 to United with 87 minutes played.
A great final all in all, some great goals scored and lots of drama. You could argue the decision at the beginning changed the complexion of the game. Southampton deserve a ton of credit they pushed United all the way and certainly more than played their part in this Final.