Manchester United earned a definitive 3-0 victory over League Two opponents Colchester United in the Carabao Cup Quarterfinal Wednesday after Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and a Colchester defender all made the scoresheet.
As is Manchester United’s custom, the Reds played a truly uninspiring first half of football against a significantly lesser opponent. Colchester were eager to concede possession and United were eager to hold it without doing much of anything else. Adding to the frustrations of the opening 45 minutes, Marcus Rashford was shooting the ball like a man failing a field sobriety test, as every shot ranged from sort of in the vicinity of the goal to nearly out of the stadium.
Colchester started feeling frisky in the beginning of the second half as the visitors put together a quick attack that put United on its heels. However, the attack was stifled with a save from Sergio Romero and the Argentinian keeper started up the attack quickly by rolling the ball to Nemanja Matić. The Serbian midfielder quickly picked out Rashford who was streaking down the left wing. With acres of space, Rashford cut the ball inside past one standing defender and another tripping over himself, and slammed a right-footed shot into the upper right-hand corner. After a much-maligned first half, Rashford gave his side a long overdue lead in the 51st minute.
In the 56th minute, United built up play on the right side and United’s newest chance-creating heartthrob, Mason Greenwood played a perfect ball into the box to Rashford who was streaking towards the far post. However, the ball didn’t quite make it to Rashford as it ricocheted off Colchester’s Ryan Jackson and into the back of the net.
The match would truly get away from Colchester in the 61st minute. Juan Mata found himself in possession of the ball at the top of the box and, with a lofted pass, picked out Rashford who, again, was moving toward the left post. Rashford played the ball back across the goal mouth and Martial pinged in a first-time shot to add to United’s resounding lead.
Despite the impressive scoreline, the box stats still provide a story of a less than confident performance for the Reds. United owned three quarters of the possession in the match and attempted nearly 30 shots, however, only six shots were on target. Like the final match of the Europa League group stage against AZ Alkmaar, United leaned on a 10 minute blitz to decide the match. Ultimately, as a team that hasn’t relied on volume to score, attempting nearly 30 shots should be an encouraging sign for disciples of Wayne Gretzky.
Manchester United move on to the Carabao Cup Semi-final to potentially face semifinalists Aston Villa, Manchester City or Leicester City. United has already earned wins over the two City teams, but, surely, the Reds will lose sleep over a potential matchup against Villa after the Clarets took a point against United in the league and shelled Liverpool’s U10 team 5-0 yesterday. The quest for Solskjær’s first trophy as Manchester United manager will continue after the start of the new year.
While the Reds wait for the results of the next draw, the squad will prepare to face Watford in a league match on Sunday, Dec. 22. The Hornets currently sit dead last in the Premier League with only nine goals and 32 conceded. Surely, with the top four in sight, United will find a way to give points to a squad that has been pillaged by the rest of the league.