Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial scored late goals as Manchester United beat Everton 2-0 in a bitterly cold Goodison Park on Wednesday to reach a League Cup semi-finals with rivals Manchester City.
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United missed numerous opportunities in the early stages and at times the game was poor on both sides as the game appeared to be heading for penalties before Cavani picked up the ball on the right wing, jumped onto his left foot and shot past Everton goalkeeper Robin Olsen .
Martial added a second with practically the final kick of the game as the visitors now face City to snag a spot in the April 25 final, while Championship Brentford face Tottenham Hotspur in their second encounter.
“It was an excellent performance and we should have been out of sight. We had three or four big chances. We have to be more clinical,” United captain Harry Maguire told Sky Sports
“We are expected to win trophies. Getting these big games is important, but we have to start winning them and winning some trophies for this club.”
Everton will feel upset that the influential Cavani was still on the field after only receiving a verbal warning from Referee Bobby Madley when he met Yerry Mina in an off-the-ball incident near the ball of the Everton defender knocked to the ground first half.
With the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) absent until the semi-finals in this competition, no further action was taken when reruns showed Cavani was lucky enough to escape the sanction.
His quality proved the difference in opening up the tight Everton defense. Martial’s insurance goal came in the final seconds as the home team pushed bodies forward in search of balance.
“It was cagey at times – there and back and flowing, attacking and defending, but you are always confident when it opens a little with the pace we are at,” said United manager Ole Gunnar Solskajer.
“Cavani should have scored three goals in the first half but he is a top striker, movement, quality and the goal was excellent,” he added.
United maintains its excellent record outside of Old Trafford and is now unbeaten in 20 domestic games in all competitions, of which 18 have been won.
The visitors dominated the early exchanges, putting pressure on Everton with a number of missed opportunities, with Cavani running out twice.
Everton finally awoke from their sleep when Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Gylfi Sigurdsson, cheered on by 2,000 fans at Goodison Park, both made efforts that needed to be saved by United goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
The second half had little of the spark of the first, both sides misplaced the passes in the attacking third and neither of the two goalkeepers had to seriously save until Olsen got the ball out of his net for Cavani’s opener.
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti was disappointed that his team could not achieve the favorable result.
“We did enough to win – good performance that we had to defend, which we did well, but more in the second half,” he said. “We got off to a difficult start, but after 20 minutes the game was under control – we didn’t play enough offensive football, but we had to defend and we did well for the last 20 minutes.”