Manchester United punched their ticket to the Carabao Cup Quarterfinals on Wednesday night, defeating Vincent Kompany’s Burnley side comfortably in a 2-0 win.
It was the Reds’ first match since returning from the 2022 World Cup, a competition that only concluded on Sunday, but Erik ten Hag was able to field a strong team with several players back from early exits from Qatar. Notably Casemiro had to move to centre back to cover for Harry Maguire as he recovers from illness, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka got the start at right back in place of an absent Diogo Dalot.
The game began a bit slow, but it was clear that United would be the stronger side even without having played together in some time.
Alejandro Garnacho had two excellent chances on the end of quick breaks. The first came from a stray pass by Burnley, which sent Bruno Fernandes galloping with options ahead. He found Garnacho in behind, but the young forward’s shot was too weak to trouble the keeper. On the next chance he was sent running by Martial, and though he got in behind his touch let him down as he charged full speed towards goal, and the ball got away from him.
The young Argentine wasn’t the only player who looked a bit rusty, and the team as a whole looked as though they’d spent the last month apart. Despite that they still managed to create chances, and eventually a well worked goal.
In the 27th minute, with Burnley pinned back deep, United patrolled the edge of the box in possession looking for an opening. With play focused on the left, Bruno Fernandes found an opportunity to switch to the right with Aaron Wan-Bissaka making a run. The cross found him just in time as he approached the byline and hit a pull-back ball first time across the face of goal for Christian Eriksen to convert.
Eriksen with the finish from a quality Wan-Bissaka assist pic.twitter.com/zZ2ZhyzdsB— ESPN+ (@ESPNPlus) December 21, 2022
The goal was a very welcome sight for man y reasons, but particularly for Wan-Bissaka after a tough year of uncertainty about his future, low confidence, and limited playing time. With Diogo Dalot playing so well it’s tough to see a way back to being the first choice right back, but this was still an opportunity to show his worth and he took it.
United went into the break with the 1-0 lead, missing another potential opportunity through Anthony Martial to double. In that spirit they picked up where they left off early in the second half, with Scott McTominay missing after being set up by Marcus Rashford at the top of the area.
They wouldn’t have to wait too much longer to double their lead however, with Rashford scoring a spectacular solo goal. Charging at Burnley through nearly their entire half of the pitch, Rashford opted to beat defenders himself rather than pass to Martial, and he lashed a brilliant strike past Peacock-Farrell to make it 2-0 in the 57th minute.
Rashford played well on the right for England at the World Cup, and did so again in his return for United. He’s been in great form all season long, and his ability to deliver from anywhere on the front line has only made him more valuable.
The rest of the match was a bit routine. There were several opportunities for Burnley to score after some poor play out from the back, and they probably should have scored at least one given the careless play of Martin Dubravka on the night, but the match ultimately turned into an opportunity to give more players a cameo and wrap up a place in the Quarterfinals.
Up next, Manchester United will return to Premier League action on Tuesday, December 27th against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford.