Month: December 2016

West Brom 0 Manchester United 2

17/12/2016 19:20, Report by Adam Marshall

Premier League | The Hawthorns | Attendance: 26,308 | Scorers: Ibrahimovic 5, 56

Two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals, one in each half, set up another Manchester United victory as a 2-0 win at West Bromwich Albion was fully merited for an authoritative display from the first whistle to the last.

The Reds made a lightning start in surprisingly mild December conditions with Jesse Lingard having an early penalty claim refused after a tangle with Allan Nyom. Within five minutes, a first goal had arrived, though, with Lingard the provider as his cross from the right left Ibrahimovic with a straightforward header past Ben Foster from close range for his 15th goal of the season.

Antonio Valencia set up another opportunity from a similar area of the pitch but Wayne Rooney was unable to profit as Jose Mourinho’s men swarmed all over the hosts. Albion’s first moment of danger was supplied by their Swede, Jonas Olsson, who got a touch to a Chris Brunt corner but the ball drifted wide of the far post.

West Brom’s set-pieces were always likely to be a threat but they were fortunate when a neat move involving Paul Pogba and Lingard led to Rooney’s fierce drive being pushed onto the bar by ex-Red Foster in the 23rd minute. Ibrahimovic was then booked for flattening Craig Dawson and the Baggies started to create the clearer openings.

Brunt latched onto a Michael Carrick clearance to shoot straight at David De Gea, Salomon Rondon reached a Matty Phillips centre but failed to direct his header on target and Phillips fired well wide from a misplaced volleyed pass by Carrick. Yet it was United who should have scored again before the break when Lingard blazed a golden opportunity over the bar from inside the box as a Matteo Darmian mis-kick seemed to unhinge the home defence.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: West Brom 42% United 58%
Shots: West Brom 8 United 5
Shots on target: West Brom 1 United 2
Corners: West Brom 1 United 1

The Reds made another quick start to the second half and soon doubled the lead. Pogba tried a cheeky chip when a quick free-kick left the Albion defence exposed to force Foster into a comfortable save but the keeper had no chance moments afterwards. Ibrahimovic exchanged passes with Rooney and cut inside two defenders with real intent. A firm shot deflected off Dawson and zipped into the far corner of the net to make it 16 goals for the super Swede.

Rojo and Rondon were both booked for a flare-up, although the West Brom striker could easily have seen red for appearing to slap the Argentinian, as the hosts tried to battle their way back into the game. There was also a hopeful penalty appeal when Pogba blocked a header from close range inside the area.

However, the Reds continued to hunt further goals and Pogba shot into the ground and too close to Foster following a decent run down the right by Valencia before the Frenchman clubbed a drive into the crowd. With Tony Pulis’s side held comfortably at arm’s length, there were no real scares as United made it three league wins on the spin ahead of festive home fixtures with Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

Chris Smalling also made his return from injury deep into stoppage time while another substitute, Marcus Rashford, was unlucky to be cynically impeded by Brunt after racing past the Northern Irishman on the right wing and also to see a shot blocked in the dying seconds. By that point though, the game was over and United’s job was done.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: West Brom 44% United 56%
Shots: West Brom 10 United 9
Shots on target: West Brom 1 United 5
Corners: West Brom 2 United 2

TEAMS

West Brom: Foster; Dawson (Morrison 74), McAuley, Olsson, Nyom; Yacob, Fletcher; Brunt, Chadli (Leko 82), Phillips (Robson-Kanu 82); Rondon. Subs not used: Myhill, Galloway, Gardner, McClean.

Booked: Dawson, Rondon, Brunt

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera (Smalling 91); Lingard (Rashford 77), Pogba, Rooney (Fellaini 84); Ibrahimovic. Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Mata, Martial.

Booked: Ibrahimovic, Lingard, Rojo

Crystal Palace 1 Manchester United 2

14/12/2016 21:52, Report by Ryan Grant

Premier League | Selhurst Park | Attendance: TBC | Scorers: Pogba 45, Ibrahimovic 88; McArthur 66

A late strike from Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Manchester United a vital victory over Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening, as the Reds ran out 2-1 winners at Selhurst Park.

The Swede fired home with just two minutes of normal time remaining to secure the three points, after James McArthur had cancelled out Paul Pogba’s first-half opener.

Ahead of the game – United’s third in the space of six days – Jose Mourinho delivered on his promise to rotate players during a busy December, making four changes to the side that beat Tottenham.

Wayne Rooney was among those recalled to the starting line-up, and the captain had an early opportunity to break the deadlock, but couldn’t direct his header on target from Juan Mata’s cross after five minutes.

In truth, the hosts were hardly afforded a touch of the ball during the opening stages, with an eventual string of passes being greeted by cheers from the home fans. As has been the theme in recent weeks, Mourinho’s men were well on top, and went close again when Pogba curled a long-range effort over the bar.

Last-ditch defending then denied Rooney a clear goalscoring chance on 24 minutes, as Eric Bailly – slotting in at right-back in the absence of the suspended Antonio Valencia – burst forward from defence to provide an inviting low cross.

Bailly was involved again in a similar situation on the half-hour mark, this time picking out Rooney successfully. The Reds skipper looked for Ibrahimovic with a first-time pass, but the ball just skipped away from the Swedish striker. At the other end, Palace’s first real attack of note came via former United man Wilfried Zaha, who twisted and turned to find space on the left, but couldn’t pick out a team-mate with his delivery.

United were then denied twice in quick succession by Wayne Hennessey, as the Palace keeper firstly thwarted Rooney and then Pogba, who had both found space well inside the area. With just seconds remaining before the break, the Reds’ patience finally paid off, as Ibrahimovic chested Mata’s free-kick into Pogba’s path, allowing the Frenchman the easiest of finishes from six yards.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: Palace 37% United 63%
Shots: Palace 2 United 9
Shots on target: Palace 0 United 3
Corners: Palace 0 United 3

Despite the setback, Palace started the second half on the front foot and came close to an equaliser almost immediately through half-time substitute Joe Ledley, who fired narrowly wide from range. The Reds were forced into a change of their own soon after, as Bailly – who had previously looked to be struggling with an injury – could no longer continue and had to be replaced by Matteo Darmian.

Things might have got worse for Mourinho’s men with 25 minutes remaining, but for a save-of-the-season contender from David De Gea. McArthur picked the ball up and ran towards goal, before unleashing a swerving effort that the Spaniard tipped away superbly.

The home side were knocking on the door, however, and got their reward three minutes later. This time, the Eagles midfielder got the better of De Gea, finishing off a flowing move from inside the box.

With the game really coming to life, United went in search of an immediate response, as Rooney drew a fingertip save from Hennessey. The pressure was building, as too was the sense of frustration for the Reds when referee Craig Pawson waved away claims for a penalty following an apparent handball by Ledley on 68 minutes.

That frustration was added to just moments later, too, when Mata tapped in Rojo’s header across goal, only for the offside flag to come to Palace’s rescue. Replays showed that the decision might have gone the other way, though it didn’t stop United pressing.

Sensing a goal, Mourinho rolled the dice, and brought on Jesse Lingard for the final quarter of the game. The winger was the next player to test Hennessey, shooting on the turn after being found by Ibrahimovic inside the area.

Thankfully, there was still time for some late drama, as Ibrahimovic raced onto Pogba’s superb pass to fire into the bottom right-hand corner, and send the travelling fans into raptures.

With a goal scored at the end of each half, it was a display which showed, if nothing else, the importance of fighting until the end. In true United fashion, Mourinho’s men did just that.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: Palace 39% United 61%
Shots: Palace 6 United 16
Shots on target: Palace 3 United 6
Corners: Palace 1 United 7

TEAMS

United: De Gea, Bailly (Darmian 50), Jones, Rojo, Blind, Herrera, Carrick, Pogba, Mata (Lingard 71), Rooney (Rashford 80), Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Fellaini, Schweinsteiger, Young.

Booked: Rojo, Pogba

Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Kelly, McArthur (Campbell 85), Flamini (Ledley 45), Cabaye, Lee (Fryers 80), Zaha, Benteke.

Subs not used: Speroni, Husin, Townsend, Wan-Bissaka, Campbell.

Booked: Kelly

Manchester United 1 Tottenham 0

11/12/2016 16:10, Report by Adam Higgins

Premier League | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,271 | Scorers: Mkhitaryan 29

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored for the second successive match as Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Tottenham at Old Trafford.

The Armenian followed up his first Reds goal against Zorya Luhansk on Thursday by firing home a thunderous drive just before the half-hour mark after Ander Herrera’s pass cut open the Spurs defence.

And Paul Pogba was unfortunate not to add to the lead in the second half with a sensational free-kick from distance which struck the woodwork.

But after three consecutive draws in the league, it was a welcome three points and a resilient display from Jose Mourinho’s men, who cut the gap behind Spurs in the table to three points with a repeat scoreline of last season’s corresponding fixture.

Both sides had booked their place in the last 32 of the Europa League during the week but crucial league points were on the agenda as they sought to maintain the pressure on the teams above them.

With the Reds only returning from Ukraine in the early hours of Friday morning, Mourinho understandably freshened up his team with six changes – Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian and Michael Carrick were among those restored, after being rested at home for Thursday’s 2-0 win over Zorya.

United made a fast start and, inside the first minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic escaped down the left and played a perfect cutback into Pogba’s path but the Frenchman was denied low down by his compatriot Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.

At the other end, Heung-Min Son curled an ambitious effort over the crossbar from the edge of the box as both teams settled into the game during the early exchanges.

David De Gea, back in goal in place of Sergio Romero, then had to be alert to push away a dipping Christian Eriksen free-kick from 25 yards.

As proceedings continued to ebb and flow, Mkhitaryan – making his fourth successive start for the Reds – saw his fierce effort diverted behind by Jan Vertonghen before Herrera’s cushioned volley from range brought a comfortable save from Spurs skipper Lloris.

With United starting to seize the initiative, former Spurs man Carrick – wearing the captain’s armband from the outset – drilled a powerful effort over the crossbar from distance. And, not long after, the Reds made the decisive breakthrough as Mkhitaryan raced onto Herrera’s incisive pass before rifling home an unstoppable finish into the roof of the net.

With the momentum now with the Reds, top scorer Ibrahimovic almost added to his 13 goals this season five minutes later as his low shot was kept out by Lloris.

However, his opposite number De Gea had to produce another fine save to tip over Son’s effort from 20 yards and protect United’s lead heading into the break.

HALF-TIME STATS:
Possession:
United 41% Tottenham 59%
Shots:
United 11 Tottenham 7
Shots on target:
United 4 Tottenham 2
Corners:
United 2 Tottenham 4

United began the second period by troubling the Spurs defence on numerous occasions but the visitors almost levelled when De Gea punched away a stinging shot by Eriksen, who then curled in a free-kick which found an unmarked Victor Wanyama but he couldn’t direct his header on target.

The Reds continued to look a threat on the counter attack as Pogba came close on two occasions – rattling the crossbar with a stunning 25-yard free-kick, before lashing a shot at goal which was denied by Lloris after combining well with Herrera.

As a lively second half swung from one end to the other, Eriksen went close with a free-kick of his own, which brought a fine reaction save from De Gea to turn the fierce low effort away.

With 20 minutes remaining, Mourinho introduced Marcus Rashford in place of Anthony Martial as the Reds pushed for the second goal to kill off the challenge of the visitors. But there was a concern for the Reds when Mkhitaryan was caught late on the heel by Danny Rose, who was booked for the challenge, and after being treated for several minutes was taken off on a strtecher and replaced by Eric Bailly.

Urged on by the passionate United faithful, the Reds saw out the closing stages without too much concern, despite seven minutes of stoppage time being played, to secure a vital Premier League victory.

With four more games to play in December, the Reds continue their busy schedule on Wednesday night against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park (KO 20:00 GMT).

FULL-TIME STATS:
Possession: United 40% Tottenham 60%
Shots: United 15 Tottenham 12
Shots on target: United 5 Tottenham 4
Corners: United 3 Tottenham 8

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick, Herrera (Fellaini 90+6); Mkhitaryan (Bailly 85), Pogba, Martial (Rashford 71); Ibrahimovic.

Substitutes: Romero, Blind, Mata, Rooney.

Booked: Valencia, Pogba, Mkhitaryan

Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Dembele (Winks 67); Eriksen (Nkoudou 83), Alli, Son (Sissoko 57); Kane.

Subs not used: Vorm, Wimmer, Davies, Dier.

Booked: Wanyama, Walker, Rose

Zorya Luhansk 0 United 2

08/12/2016 19:50, Report by Gemma Thompson in Odessa

Europa League | Chornomorets Stadium | Attendance: TBC | Scorers: Mkhitaryan 48, Ibrahimovic 88

Manchester United booked a place in the Europa League Round of 32 after a deserved 2-0 victory over bottom-of-the-group Zorya Luhansk in Odessa.

The Reds only needed a point to progress but Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first goal for the club set United on the way to a comfortable win, which was sealed late on by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s well-taken finish. Elsewhere in Group A, Fenerbahce triumphed 1-0 at Feyenoord, meaning Jose Mourinho’s men will go into Monday’s draw as group runners-up.

The Reds knew a draw would be enough to go through and, with an important Premier League meeting with Tottenham just under 72 hours away, Mourinho made six changes to the team that drew at Everton. Sergio Romero replaced David De Gea in goal, while Eric Bailly made his first appearance in the defence since October following a knee injury. Ashley Young, Daley Blind, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney also came in to the side.

There had been speculation in the media that the match might not go ahead due to the sub-zero conditions which had engulfed Odessa in the days before the game and on matchday itself, but the pitch was deemed safe and proceedings went ahead in freezing conditions.

United had already secured a 1-0 win over the Ukrainians at Old Trafford, back in September. Despite being without a single win in Group A, Zorya proved stubborn opposition that night and it was the hosts who had the first sight of goal on nine minutes when the ball dropped to Ihor Kharatin 25 yards out. His well-struck shot was beaten clear by Romero, who had kept clean sheets against both Zorya and Feyenoord at home, and the Argentinian was relieved to see Ivan Petriak’s follow-up find the side-netting.

Paul Pogba flashed an effort just wide on 18 minutes and headed over soon after. It was pretty much all United thereafter, bar a speculative long-ranger from Zorya’s Olexandr Karavaev, and the Reds’ best chances of the half came as the interval neared.

Bailly connected well with an impressive overhead kick from a corner but it was straight at Igor Levchenko in the Zorya goal, before the keeper tipped a 25-yard Rooney shot over the bar and then saw Marcos Rojo blast over from the resulting corner.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession: Zorya 24% United 76%
Shots: Zorya 3 United 10
Shots on target: Zorya 1 United 3
Corners: Zorya 0 United 7

The second half began with United continuing to dominate and a reward duly arrived on 48 minutes when Mkhitaryan opened his Reds account with a fine goal. After the Reds won possession in midfield, the Armenian captain headed forward and waltzed through the Zorya defence, shimmying past a couple of players, before calmly slotting home. The United attacker clearly likes scoring goals at Chornomorets Stadium having netted a hat-trick here for Shakhtar Donetsk in 2012.

Zorya attempted to get themselves back into the game, but Bailly in particular and United’s defence were in solid form and were rarely troubled until a mini spell of pressure 18 minutes or so from the end. After Bailly had suffered a little injury scare, Romero produced another smart save to keep out Mikhail Sivakov’s header from close range.

Substitute Marouane Fellaini, on for captain Wayne Rooney, headed over soon after and, late on, Ibrahimovic sent a potential netbuster just over the bar, before the Swede got his name on the scoresheet after being put clear by Pogba. It was the finish of a supreme goalscorer and the Reds will now look forward to more European football in February.

FULL-TIME STATS:
Possession: Zorya 29% United 71%
Shots: Zorya 6 United 19
Shots on target: Zorya 2 United 7
Corners: Zorya 2 United 9

TEAMS

Zorya Luhansk: Levchenko; Opansenko, Sivakov, Forster, Sukhotskiy; Karavaev, Kharatin (Grechyshkin 57), Chaykovskiy, Petriak; Ljubenovic (c) (Lipartia 72); Bezborodko (Bonaventure 54).

Subs not used: Shevchenko, Kulach, Paulinho, Checher.

United: Romero; Young, Bailly, Rojo, Blind; Herrera, Pogba; Mata (Lingard 65), Rooney (c) (Fellaini 70), Mkhitaryan (Fosu-Mensah 84); Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: De Gea, Jones, Martial, Rashford.

Booked: Herrera, Bailly.

Everton 1 Manchester United 1

04/12/2016 17:55, Report by Mark Froggatt

Premier League | Attendance: 39,550 | Scorers: Ibrahimovic 42; Baines pen 89

Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton on Sunday, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first-half opener was cancelled out by a late Leighton Baines penalty at Goodison Park.  

The Reds had controlled much of the game, both in terms of possession and chances created, but the frustrating result leaves Jose Mourinho’s sixth in the Premier League table on 21 points, just above the eighth-placed Toffees.

A positive to note before the match was the return of summer signing Eric Bailly, who was named on the bench and in the squad for the first time since suffering an injury at Chelsea on 23 October.

A period of silence preceded the match as respects were paid to the 75 people, including members of Brazilian football team Chapecoense, who were tragically killed in a plane crash in Colombia earlier in the week. The travelling Reds supporters also displayed a banner that emphasised the club’s support.

Paul Pogba returned to the United line-up as one of two changes after serving a one-match ban and he struck the first shot of the game wide from 20 yards on eight minutes. Gareth Barry, moments later, was then fortunate not to see a yellow card for a late challenge on Ibrahimovic, before the referee cautioned Marcos Rojo for a foul on Idrissa Gana Gueye following an underhit Ander Herrera pass.

Yannick Bolasie, a favourite among the Everton fans since signing from Crystal Palace in the summer, dragged a chance wide on 27 minutes when played in up the right wing by Romelu Lukaku. Another opportunity was missed shortly afterwards, when Ibrahimovic hit a 20-yard free-kick into the wall.

Barry’s every touch was met by chants of “City reject” from the United fans, and he received an overdue booking for a foul on Henrikh Mkhitaryan after the half-hour mark.

The deadlock was broken on 42 minutes in dramatic fashion, as Ibrahimovic’s lob beyond the advancing goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg bounced onto the crossbar and then off the post before rolling over the line. Ramiro Funes Mori thought he had cleared the danger, until goal-line technology proved otherwise.

STATS AT HALF-TIME
Possession: Everton 38% United 62%
Total shots: Everton 4 United 4
Shots on target: Everton 0 United 2
Corners: Everton 2 United 2

Kevin Mirallas forced a superb save from David De Gea right at the beginning of the second half with Everton’s first shot on target. United were then denied a penalty when Baines appeared to handle the ball inside the area, before Anthony Martial hit a deflected shot over the bar from the left wing.

Ander Herrera, as part of another impressive central midfield performance, went close to doubling the advantage when his left-footed strike from six yards cannoned off the bar on 60 minutes.

The hosts then made all three of their changes within as many minutes, firstly for tactical reasons when ex-Reds midfielder Tom Cleverley was taken off in the middle of the park. The other two were enforced on manager Ronald Koeman, however, after Seamus Coleman and Bolasie both picked up separate injuries.

Toffees midfielder Gueye hit a rasping, 25-yard shot that brought a good save out of De Gea on 76 minutes and the Spain international impressed again seconds later, when punching substitute Mason Holgate’s header away from goal. Another Everton replacement, Enner Valencia, was also denied by De Gea on 82 minutes.

Marouane Fellaini entered the action on 85 minutes and quickly conceded a penalty, after fouling Gueye inside the area. Baines dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom left corner to claim a 1-1 draw, and although five minutes of injury time followed, neither side could snatch victory at the death on a dramatic afternoon.

STATS AT FULL-TIME
Possession: Everton 46% United 54%
Total shots: Everton 11 United 10
Shots on target: Everton 5 United 2
Corners: Everton 6 United 3

THE TEAMS


Everton:
Stekelenburg, Coleman (Holgate 67), Funes Mori, Williams, Baines, Barry, Cleverley (Deulofeu 65), Gana, Bolasie (Valencia 68), Mirallas, Lukaku.

Subs not used: Joel, Jagielka, Barkley, McCarthy.

Booked: Barry

United: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian, Carrick, Herrera, Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 85), Pogba, Martial (Rashford 82), Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used:
Romero, Bailly, Blind, Mata, Lingard.

Booked: Rojo, Fellaini, De Gea.

United 4 West Ham 1

30/11/2016 22:00, Report by Adam Higgins

EFL Cup quarter-final | 30 Nov 2016 | Old Trafford | Scorers: Ibrahimovic 2, 90+3, Martial 48, 62; Fletcher 35

Anthony Martial and Zlatan Ibrahimovic each scored twice as Manchester United progressed to the semi-finals of the EFL Cup with victory over West Ham United at Old Trafford.

Top scorer Ibrahimovic gave the Reds the perfect start inside two minutes, but former United striker Ashley Fletcher levelled before the break.

Martial restored the lead three minutes after the restart with a composed finish and later stroked home another from close range, before Ibrahimovic converted Ander Herrera’s cutback in stoppage time, as Jose Mourinho’s side produced a fine performance to book a last-four spot in the competition for the first time since 2013/14.

The draw for the next round was made immediately after the game, and saw the Reds paired with fellow Premier League side Hull City in January’s two-legged semi-final.

For the second time in the space of four days, the Reds played host to the east London outfit at the Theatre of Dreams and, as Ander Herrera stated, United were desperate to make the fans proud after being left frustrated by Sunday’s 1-1 draw in the Premier League.

Mourinho made five changes to the side, with Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, captain Wayne Rooney, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Michael Carrick replacing Matteo Darmian, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and the suspended Paul Pogba – who, like Marouane Fellaini, served a one-match ban.

Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was impeccably observed to remember the 75 people, including members of Brazilian team Chapecoense, killed in a plane crash in Colombia.

Once the action got under way, the Reds made the ideal start and stormed into an early lead when Ibrahimovic, who cancelled out Diafra Sakho’s second-minute goal at the weekend, got on the end of an exquisite Mkhitaryan backheel to clip a cool finish over Adrian and take his season’s tally into double figures.

The no.9 almost added to his account five minutes later but, after being played in by Rooney’s clever reverse pass, was denied by a fine double save from Adrian.

The Hammers keeper also tipped Rooney’s free-kick behind for a corner, despite it appearing to be heading wide, and later kept out Martial’s low shot.

The Reds, who had previously knocked out League One side Northampton and holders Manchester City, enjoyed much of the play in the first half and carved out several openings but were continually thwarted by a stubborn West Ham defence.

Slaven Bilic’s side threatened occasionally on the break, with Sofiane Feghouli causing momentary panic with a purposeful run, but a fine recovery tackle from Marcos Rojo ended that particular attack.

However, United were left dissatisfied at the interval after the visitors drew level through a familiar face. Fletcher followed in after David De Gea saved Dimitri Payet’s shot, to slot home his first West Ham goal since leaving Old Trafford in the summer.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession:
United 65% West Ham 35%
Shots at goal:
United 9 West Ham 2
Shots on target:
United 4 West Ham 2
Corners:
United 3 West Ham 1

The Reds made a half-time change as Daley Blind replaced Shaw at left-back and were soon celebrating as United started the second half in the same way as the first.

Antonio Valencia’s backheel freed the impressive Mkhitaryan, who notched his second assist of the game with a fine lay-off for Martial, who sent a composed finish into the roof of the net from 10 yards.

The Frenchman almost gave United a much-needed two-goal cushion a few minutes later when put in on goal by Rooney, but couldn’t find a way past Adrian, who then had to get down low to deny Ibrahimovic’s powerful free-kick.

Martial put the tie beyond doubt just after the hour-mark, though, converting Valencia’s low centre for his fourth goal of the season, following some excellent build-up play in which Ibrahimovic played his part.

It seemed to settle any lingering nerves for the Reds, who continued to boss proceedings and had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Mike Jones when Hammers skipper Winston Reid appeared to catch Rooney in the face.

With Mourinho’s men firmly in control, the Old Trafford faithful gave substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger a warm reception when he replaced Martial with four minutes to play, for what was his first appearance of the season. The German almost got on the scoresheet but sliced his shot off target.

Ibrahimovic, who was earlier denied by a fine Adrian save, rounded off the evening nicely by tucking away a perfectly-weighted cross from Herrera to claim his fifth goal in the last four games.

It proved the final act as the Reds comfortably returned to winning ways to take another step closer to Wembley, and will return to Premier League action against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.

FULL-TIME STATS

Possession: United 57% West Ham 43%
Shots at goal:
United 17 West Ham 6
Shots on target:
United 9 West Ham 2
Corners:
United 5 West Ham 5

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Shaw (Blind 45); Carrick, Herrera; Mkhitaryan (Rashford 90), Rooney (c), Martial (Schweinsteiger 86); Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Schneiderlin, Lingard, Mata, Rashford.

Booked: Valencia, Rooney

West Ham: Adrian; Antonio (Lanzini 58), Reid (c), Ogbonna, Cresswell (Masuaku 45); Feghouli, Kouyate; Obiang, Fernandes, Payet (Zaza 75); Fletcher.

Subs not used: Randolph, Nordtveit, Collins, Noble.

Booked: Obiang

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