LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial struck late goals as Manchester United claimed a scrappy 2-0 victory over Everton at a bitterly cold Goodison Park on Wednesday to set up a League Cup semi-final with rivals Manchester City.
United wasted numerous opportunities in the opening stages and at times the play was dire from both sides as the game appeared to be heading for penalties before Cavani collected the ball on the right wing, skipped inside onto his left foot and fired past Everton goalkeeper Robin Olsen.
Martial added a second with virtually the last kick of the game as the visitors now meet City for a place in the April 25 final, while Championship side Brentford take on Tottenham Hotspur in the other last-four clash.
“It was an excellent performance and we should have been out of sight, we had three or four great chances. We need to be more clinical,” United captain Harry Maguire told Sky Sports
“We are expected to win trophies. It’s important to reach these big games but we have to start winning them and lift some trophies for this club.
Everton will feel aggrieved that the influential Cavani was still on the pitch after receiving only a verbal warning from referee Bobby Madley when he shoved Yerry Mina to the ground with his hands close to the Everton defender’s throat in an off-the-ball incident in the first half.
But with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) absent in this competition until the semi-final stage, there was no further action taken when replays showed Cavani was lucky to escape sanction.
His quality proved the difference in opening up the tight Everton defence though, with Martial’s insurance goal coming in the dying seconds as the home side pushed bodies forward in search of an equaliser.
United keep up their excellent record away from Old Trafford and are now unbeaten in 20 domestic games in all competitions, winning 18 of those.
The visitors dominated the early exchanges and put Everton under pressure with a succession of chances that were wasted, Cavani coming close twice.
Everton finally woke from their slumber as, roared on by 2,000 fans in Goodison Park, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Gylfi Sigurdsson both had efforts on goal that needed saving by United keeper Dean Henderson.
The second half had little of the spark of the first, both sides misplacing passes in the attacking third and neither keeper having a serious save to make until Olsen was picking the ball out of his net for Cavani’s opener.
Spurs reach League Cup semi on ‘cold night in Stoke’
Tottenham Hotspur reached the semi-finals of the League Cup with a 3-1 win over second-tier side Stoke City on a typically freezing Wednesday night thanks to goals from Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Harry Kane.
On the sort of inhospitable evening that Stoke’s stadium became famous for in the Premier League, Spurs boss Jose Mourinho paid the now-Championship team the compliment of fielding a strong side from the off including goal-machine Kane.
Chasing a first major trophy since winning the League Cup in 2008, the Premier League side totally dominated the first half and took a deserved lead when Gareth Bale flicked in a cute 22nd minute header from a Harry Winks cross.
It was Bale’s third goal since returning to Tottenham on loan from Real Madrid.
The hosts lacked their famously passionate crowd at the Bet365 stadium, but the chill wind and pre-match rain bore out the old cliche about the toughest test in football being a “cold, wet night at Stoke”.
And indeed, as those few present to watch huddled in their woolies, Stoke brought scowls to Mourinho’s face in the second half with an equaliser by Jordan Thompson, who beat Hugo Lloris from close after Jacob Brown’s pass in the 53rd minute.
Tottenham weathered the mini-storm, however, to restore their lead with a fine low shot from outside the area by Ben Davies in the 70th minute before Kane, inevitably, blasted into the top of the net from close range in the 81st minute.
“We’re really happy. We knew that a cold, wet windy Wednesday night at Stoke was going to be tough,” man-of-the-match Winks said afterwards.
“The boys were brilliant. It’s a tough place to come.”
Spurs were top of the Premier League earlier this month but they have dropped to sixth after collecting only a point from their last three matches. Mourinho has already won the League Cup four times with Chelsea and Manchester United and is now two wins away from a fifth triumph in the competition.
“We deserved it,” he said after beating Stoke. “Now we have two tough games to come.”
Tottenham join holders Manchester City and Championship side Brentford in the semi-final draw, along with either Everton or Manchester United who were playing later on Wednesday.
At Stoke, Mourinho started with out-of-favour Dele Alli, but he was substituted after Stoke’s 37-year-old debut goalkeeper Andy Lonergan thwarted him twice with smart saves. It was Lonergan’s first competitive game since turning out for third tier League One team Rochdale in 2019.
Stoke manager Michael O’Neill said Stoke were too timid in the first half, but he was not displeased overall.
“We expected Spurs to come with a strong team – maybe not as strong as they started” he chuckled.
“Spurs showed their class. They showed real quality … But we gave a decent account of ourselves.”
Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Pritha Sarkar