Manchester United lifted their first major trophy in five years on Sunday, seeing off Newcastle United 2-0 in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley. It was an even game, but first-half goals from Casemiro and Marcus Rashford proved sufficient to sink the Magpies. It is the first trophy of Erik ten Hag’s managerial reign — and hopefully the first of many.
Ten Hag made only two changes to the side that beat Barcelona on Thursday, with supersub Antony rewarded for his match-winning heroics with a promotion to the starting lineup; Jadon Sancho dropped to the bench. The only other change was at right-back, where Diogo Dalot was preferred to the defensively sturdy Aaron Wan-Bissaka, notwithstanding the attacking threat posed by Newcastle winger Allan Saint-Maximin.
The first half was a scrappy affair, and both sides struggled to bring the game under control. There were relatively few chances in the opening minutes, save for when a loose ball bounced kindly for Wout Weghorst in the Newcastle box; the Dutch striker should have done better, but could only scuff a left-footed shot into the turf.
Newcastle seemed to be growing into the game when United took the lead, with Fabian Schär heading just over the crossbar and Saint-Maximin forcing a good save from David de Gea at the near post. The opening goal came from a Luke Shaw set piece, wide on the United left: his sweeping cross was met by a superb, glancing Casemiro header, which drifted past a helpless Loris Karius and inside the far post.
It took just six minutes before United completed a one-two jab that proved a knockout blow. There was some fortune about the second goal, which came after a loose ball bounced nicely for Weghorst, who slipped Rashford into the penalty area; his low shot would surely have been saved by Karius, had a huge deflection off Sven Botman not lifted the ball up and over the German keeper for 2-0.
It might have been three before halftime, had Karius not made an excellent save to deny Weghorst a spectacular, long-range drive destined for the top corner.
The second half began with United’s first substitution, as Wan-Bissaka was introduced in place of the booked Dalot. Newcastle began the half with gusto, and saw much more of the ball than their opponents. However, United’s defence held firm, and de Gea hardly had a save to make. With just over 20 minutes to go, Lisandro Martínez and Wan-Bissaka both made crucial blocks to deny Joelinton from inside the area. Notwithstanding the Newcastle pressure, United never really looked at risk of throwing the game away.
Ten Hag soon made his second and third substitutions, with Weghorst and Fred making way for Marcel Sabitzer and Scott McTominay. Sabitzer was involved in United’s next good chance, sliding a ball through for Rashford, whose low drive from distance was well saved by Karius. Fernandes should have capped the win with a third in stoppage time, though was denied from point-blank range.