LONDON: Manchester United kept the critics at bay as they cruised into the League Cup fourth round with a 3-0 win against Crystal Palace on Tuesday. United boss Erik ten Hag and his players have been under fire after a disappointing start to the season. But, following Saturday’s narrow Premier League victory at Burnley, they secured a second successive win to ease the pressure at least a little.
Alejandro Garnacho put them ahead in the first half and Casemiro doubled the lead before the interval, with Anthony Martial sealing the victory after the break. When United lifted the League Cup in February to end a six-year trophy drought, it was seen as the start of a new era of success at Old Trafford. Instead, United have been engulfed by a series of problems on and off the pitch.
Having lost three of their first five league games to severely damage their title hopes, Ten Hag was under mounting scrutiny until the last four days offered a ray of hope. Ten Hag made a point of applauding the crowd and waving to all corners of Old Trafford before kick-off, setting the tone for an uplifting evening as his decision to make seven changes paid off.
Dean Henderson was making his Palace debut after leaving United a month ago, but the keeper’s return lasted just 19 minutes before he limped off injured. Henderson’s replacement Sam Johnstone had to pick the ball out of the net moments after coming on as United took a 21st minute lead. Diogo Dalot’s cross arrowed towards Garnacho and the Argentine winger swivelled to fire a low strike past Johnstone from 10 yards. Casemiro increased United’s advantage six minutes later, climbing highest to meet Mason Mount’s corner with a glancing header that gave Johnstone no chance.
United’s third arrived in the 55th minute when Martial rifled home from Casemiro’s cross. Giving further encouragement to Ten Hag, Morocco’s Sofyan Amrabat impressed on his first start since his deadline-day loan switch from Fiorentina. Amrabat lined up a stand-in left-back role before switching to his preferred central midfield position after half-time. United will look to extend their winning run when Palace return to Old Trafford in the league on Saturday.
Luton’s difficult start to the season hit a new low with a shock 1-0 defeat at third tier Exeter. Luton enjoyed a fairytale promotion to the Premier League last season, but they are winless after five games in the top-flight. Rob Edwards’ side claimed their first point of the season against Wolves on Saturday.
However, Edwards’ decision to make 10 changes backfired as Demetri Mitchell bagged Exeter’s 83rd-minute winner with a close-range finish before he was sent off in the final moments. Wolves were the other Premier League side to suffer an embarrassing exit as they blew a two-goal lead in a 3-2 defeat at Ipswich
Gary O’Neill made 10 changes against the Championship high-flyers and his understudies raced ahead thanks to goals from Hwang Hee-chan and Toti Gomes in the first 15 minutes. But Omari Hutchinson, on loan from Chelsea, got one back in the 28th minute and Freddie Ladapo levelled seven minutes before half-time.
Ipswich completed their comeback in the 58th minute when Jack Taylor blasted in from 25 yards. Salford—the fourth tier club owned by former Manchester United stars including David Beckham and Gary Neville—were thrashed 4-0 by Burnley. Salford had stunned Championship teams Preston and Leeds in the first two rounds, but their giant-killing exploits were ended by a Burnley team off to a winless start in the Premier League. Burnley boss Vincent Kompany made 11 changes, with Sander Berge heading home in the 12th minute before Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the first time since joining from Hoffenheim. Dara O’Shea netted in the 27th minute and Wilson Odobert’s late goal capped the rout. – AFP