Manchester: Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini struck to give Manchester United a 2-0 victory over injury-ravaged Hull City in Wednesday’s League Cup semifinal first leg at Old Trafford.
All eyes were on United captain Wayne Rooney, who is chasing a record 250th goal for the club, but it was Mata who broke the deadlock in the 56th minute before substitute Fellaini added a second.
It puts Jose Mourinho’s men in the driving seat ahead of the return leg on January 26, although it was not until Fellaini headed home in the 87th minute that they finally put the game beyond Hull.
United have now won nine games in succession ahead of Liverpool’s visit in the EPL on Sunday. Despite Mourinho making seven changes to the team that had outclassed Reading 4-0 in the FA Cup on Saturday, United picked up where they had left off, peppering the Hull goal with shots.
Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic had to produce a one-handed save to thwart Mata inside two minutes and moments later Andy Robertson stopped Rooney applying the finishing touch to Marcus Rashford’s shot.
Rooney’s moment of history looked to have arrived in the 51st minute when Pogba’s fine, flighted pass set him racing in on goal from the right, but he drilled his shot inches wide of the far post.
Instead it was Mata who provided the breakthrough, stabbing in on the volley at the back post after Antonio Valencia’s cross from the right was headed back across goal by Mkhitaryan. It seemed Hull would escape with only a one-goal deficit, but with three minutes remaining Fellaini met Matteo Darmian’s cross with a looping header that Huddlestone could only help over the line.