Martial, Fred strike as Man United ease past Forest into final

(Reuters) – Second-half goals from Anthony Martial and Fred earned Manchester United a comfortable 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Wednesday to secure a 5-0 aggregate win and a place in the League Cup final.

January signing Wout Weghorst almost followed his goal in the first leg with another in an opening period of few clear-cut chances, heading a pinpoint Casemiro cross against the post at Old Trafford.

United manager Erik ten Hag sent top scorer Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Martial on in the second half to try to put the tie to bed and the French forward scuffed home the opener in the 73rd minute. Brazilian Fred put the icing on the cake three minutes later, tapping in at the far post to book his team a final date with Newcastle United on Feb. 26, as Ten Hag’s side stretched their home winning streak to 12 games in all competitions.

“The first half wasn’t great to be honest,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “I thought it was professional but too slow and we didn’t create too many chances.

“The second half was much better, more tempo and we made some good goals. We just want to improve every day. I think we have a good squad so we have to demand and control the high standards.” To say the odds were stacked against Forest coming into the match was an understatement, given no team to have won the first leg of a League Cup semi-final by at least three goals had been eliminated prior to their trip to Manchester.

Away supporters’ hopes of a huge upset were further dashed when they saw the United starting line-up with Ten Hag naming a strong side, only resting goalkeeper David de Gea and Rashford. It took United a while to get going despite their impressive recent run, with Casemiro’s header well saved, before Brazilian forward Antony volleyed over from distance.

Ten Hag’s substitutions proved too much for Forest as Martial converted after Rashford’s shot had fallen into his path, before Rashford squared for Fred to add gloss to a comfortable win.

United have now reached the League Cup final for the 10th time, with only Liverpool playing in more, with the club chasing their first trophy since 2017.

“Congrats to United and Newcastle, good luck to them in the final,” Forest manager Steve Cooper said. “Overall, we are disappointed, of course, but in terms of getting to the final the damage was done last week.”