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Manchester United 2-0 Hull City: Mata the difference in EFL Cup semi-final

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It wasn't spectacular, but Manchester United notched up another comfortable victory to take control of the League Cup semi-final

Manchester United v Hull City - EFL Cup Semi-Final: First Leg Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Manchester United won the first leg of their League Cup semi-final in competent if uninspiring fashion. Goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini gave United the advantage in the tie, though United were wasteful, particularly in a first half that was frustrating and promising in equal measure.

The home side could have taken an early lead and broken the game open after just two minutes, but Eldin Jankupovic made an excellent save from Juan Mata. Then the Spaniard turned provider, dancing across the pitch and down the left before rolling the ball to an unmarked Mkhitaryan. The Armenian should have done better than to place the ball three feet too far to the left.

After that, though United dominated possession and spun some lovely quick passing moves together, they couldn't stick their shots on target. Hull were sitting deep, denying Rashford space in behind, and restricting United to long shots. Most vanished over the bar, though Jakupovic nearly palmed a particularly firm Pogba effort into his own net.

Up the other end, United just about avoided calamity. Hull sent a deep free-kick into the box and the ball, via Phil Jones' head and Chris Smalling's back, found its way to the forehead of Adama Diomande. His header came back off the post, though he may have be incorrectly flagged offside in any case.

Still, it only took ten minutes of the second half for United to finally find their way through. After Rooney had spurned his best chance of the evening, sending an angled shot past Jakupovic's post, the rest of United's attacking players combined to get the job done. Pogba clipped a perfectly weighted pass out to Valencia on the right wing, who sent a deep cross towards Mkhitaryan. The winger outjumped his man and sent a firm header back across goal, and Juan Mata stabbed home from about a yard.

Rooney was withdrawn shortly afterwards, still waiting for his record-breaking 250th goal, and the game rather ground to a halt. Pogba directed a free-kick into the post, and Sam Clucas screwed Hull's only real chance of the second half wide from just outside the box.

It took the introduction of Marouane Fellaini to get Mourinho the second goal he was looking for. With five minutes left, the substitute clanked his way into the box and managed to direct a Matteo Darmian cross back across goal and into the net. He then ran to Mourinho to celebrate, gave him a hug at some pace, and nearly broke his manager in half.

While Mourinho would doubtless have liked another goal or two, with a view to rotation in the second leg, this win extends United's unbeaten run to 15, the last nine of which have been wins. A little more precision, and this could have been a hammering; as it is, United were comfortable throughout, and picked up no new injuries ahead of the visit of Liverpool on Sunday. Job done.