Manchester United faced Nottingham Forest in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.
Erik Ten Hag was keen to get his team back to winning ways after a draw with Crystal Palace, which was followed by a heartbreaking defeat at the Emirates by Arsenal.
The United boss started in front of David de Gea, with Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof ahead of him. Aaron Van Bissaka and Tyrell Malasia formed a pair of outfield defenders.
Casemiro returned to the midfield along with Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandez. Wout Weghorst started his third consecutive game with Marcus Rashford and Anthony on either side of him.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest.
Dominant first half
United were by far the better side in the opening 45 minutes.
The Reds headed into the tunnel, scoring an impressive 68% of the ball compared to Forest’s 32%. Ten Hag’s men also landed more punches than Forest.
United had eight shots, four of which hit the target. On the other hand, Forest had successful shots, and only two required De Gea to act.
United, who are now one foot in the final, broke the deadlock early thanks to Rashford. The in-form winger picked up the ball in his own half and went on a marauding run deep into Forest territory.
He showed brilliant skill to get past two defenders before landing a left-footed shot past Wayne Hennessy.
Weghorst scored the Red Devils’ second goal in the first half. The striker, who is on loan at Old Trafford, showed great flair in the penalty area to get to the end of the Hennessy spill after Anthony’s strike. The Dutchman made no mistake from close range and put United ahead.
Defensively, United were solid, except for a few occasions when the enemy caught them in transition.
Ten Hag looked very upset and angry on the sideline in the first period of the game, but no doubt he would have been pleased with the two-goal advantage after 45 minutes.
Weghorst is a positive addition
When Weghorst arrived at the club, many fans and the media expressed doubts about his qualifications and suitability to be a leading player in attack.
However, the 30-year-old constantly shows why Ten Hag was desperate to get him during the striker crisis.
He showed glimpses of his brilliance against Crystal Palace and Arsenal. At the City Ground, Weghorst was superb and was rewarded for his efforts with a goal — his first goal in a United shirt.
In addition to the goal, Weghorst excelled at holding the ball and tying up the game.
Steve Cooper cannot be blamed for his speed of work against players. The goaltender pressed well and effectively performed his duties in defense.
The player’s passes were no less impressive, and he rarely lost possession or conceded the ball to an opponent. Weghorst also provided the physical presence inside the box that the team so dreamed of.
Although he may not be everyone’s preferred number, Wegorst proves that he can do his job well and do what is required of him.
One step closer to Wembley
United will lead 3-0 at Old Trafford when they host Forest in the second leg.
Steve Cooper and his people will have to come up with something special to close the deficit.
A 3-0 victory before the second leg will certainly give Ten Hag and the players enough respite before a busy schedule.
Ten Hag spoke in detail about United’s trophy drought and how the League Cup was a great opportunity to end this long period.
Today’s victory is a huge step towards achieving this goal.