MANCHESTER, England (AP)Manchester United twice came from behind to beat Aston Villa 4-2 Thursday and advance to last 16 of the English League Cup, a day after several other big teams were eliminated.
After a slow opening 45 minutes, the game came alive after the break with all six goals scored in the second half. United forward Anthony Martial canceled out Ollie Watkins’ opener within seconds, then Marcus Rashford struck after Diogo Dalot’s own goal had put the visitors back in front.
Bruno Fernandes then put United ahead in the 78th minute before Scott McTominay added a fourth in stoppage time, with both goals set up by teenager Alejandro Garnacho after he had come off the bench.
”Our two halves are never the same,” United manager Erik Ten Hag said. ”We controlled the game in the first half by good pressing, we won a lot of possession but then did the wrong things. … At halftime we said keep the pressing but be more direct. I’m proud of the team we could do that.”
The result saw United exact some revenge for Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League loss in Villa manager Unai Emery’s first game in charge. It also boosts Ten Hag’s chances of winning a trophy in his first season at United, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham having all been eliminated on Wednesday.
In addition, defending champion Liverpool and Manchester City were drawn to face each other in the next round. Man United will play Burnley at home, while Newcastle welcomes fellow Premier League side Bournemouth.
At Old Trafford, both managers made seven changes from Sunday, with Harry Maguire taking the captain’s armband for United while there was a debut in goal for Martin Dubravka. Cristiano Ronaldo, the captain on Sunday, was not in the squad due to illness.
Neither side had a shot on target until stoppage time in the first half, when Fernandes tried to catch Robin Olsen out of position with a tame free kick from deep.
But the match sparked into life after the break.
Villa struck first with Jacob Ramsey reprising his role as a creator from Sunday. As United appealed in vain for handball after Fred was dispossessed, Ramsey’s pass found the run of Watkins who got goalside of the defence to beat Dubravka.
Villa were still celebrating as United struck back seconds later. Fernandes beat the offside trap as he raced on to Dalot’s long pass, then rolled the ball over for Martial to finish with ease.
Emery changed shape with a triple substitution as Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey and Tyrone Mings were sent on and it quickly paid off as Bailey helped Villa retake the lead just after the hour.
Ashley Young’s cross found the Jamaican at the far post, and his header back across was inadvertently turned past Dubravka by Dalot.
Ten Hag responded with a triple substitution of his own and five minutes later United were level.
Rashford flicked the ball on for one of the new faces, Christian Eriksen, and although Young slid in to nick the ball away, it rolled across the box for Rashford to pick up, staying on his feet under pressure from Mings before rifling past Olsen.
Garnacho’s introduction brought further excitement to Old Trafford as the 18-year-old showed no fear in running at defenders.
And when the Villa back four allowed his cross to reach Fernandes, Olsen did well to block his low shot before punching clear Maguire’s header from the resulting corner.
Fernandes flashed a shot wide as the pressure grew. Olsen responded by first spilling a cross, then mis-hitting a clearance straight to Garnacho.
The youngster squared the ball to Fernandes who took a touch before hitting a shot which deflected off Mings on its way past the goalkeeper.
And Garnacho was the creator again in stoppage time, looping in a cross from the left which McTominay stretched to poke home at the far post.
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