Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores the first goal as he collides with West Ham United goalkeeper Adrian during their English League Cup quarterfinal at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Wednesday. United won 4-1, with Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial scoring a brace each.

Old foes Manchester United and Liverpool managed to avoid each other in Wednesday’s draw for the semifinals of the English League Cup.

United was paired with Premier League struggler Hull City after defeating West Ham United 4-1 at Old Trafford, three days on from a 1-1 league draw between the teams at the same venue.

Hull, which was promoted via the Championship playoffs at Wembley last season, saw off Championship leader Newcastle United on penalties on Tuesday.

“If the teams arrive here, it is because they put a lot on the competition,” said United manager Jose Mourinho.

“I am sure that Hull City has an amazing memory from Wembley from last season. I’m sure that they are going to try everything to be there again.”

Liverpool, a 2-0 victor against second-tier Leeds United on Tuesday, will face Southampton, which pulled off a shock 2-0 win at Arsenal on Wednesday.

At Old Trafford, it was Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s vision and Anthony Martial’s cool finishing that helped United into the semifinals as two of the team’s out-of-favor forwards showed their worth on Wednesday.

United’s win over West Ham was illuminated by Mkhitaryan’s touch and eye for a pass in only his third start for the club since his move from Borussia Dortmund in the offseason.

The Armenia captain set up goals scored early in each half — by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Martial — before getting a standing ovation from United fans when substituted in the final minutes. By then, Ibrahimovic and Martial had each grabbed their second goals.

Mourinho has been holding back Mkhitaryan while he adapts to the English game. On this evidence, it’s time for the last season’s Bundesliga Player of the Year to be unleashed on a regular basis. “We were waiting for his adaptation,” Mourinho said, “and it looks like it’s coming.”

Martial has featured more than Mkhitaryan this season but has also been often overlooked by Mourinho, who has many options in his attacking midfield positions in players like Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay.

This brace doubled the France international’s goal output for the season.

Mourinho was absent from the dugout for the match after being handed a one-game touchline ban hours before kickoff, a punishment being sent to the stands against West Ham in a Premier League fixture at the weekend.

Mourinho was able to talk to his players before kickoff and at halftime, and was able to communicate with his staff on the bench during the game. One of his decisions was to send Bastian Schweinsteiger on as a late substitute for Martial, for the former Germany captain’s first appearance of the season.

Asked where he watched the match, Mourinho, who wasn’t spotted in the stands at Old Trafford, said: “Secret.”

In the other quarterfinal on Wednesday, Southampton beat a largely second-string Arsenal team 2-0 thanks to first-half goals by Jordy Clasie and Ryan Bertrand at Emirates Stadium. Southampton advanced to the semifinals of England’s second-tier cup competition for the first time since the 1986-87 season.

The semifinals are played over two legs in January.

Shanghai Daily

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.