Manchester United faced off against Nottingham Forest in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
Erik ten Hag was keen on getting his side back to winning ways after a draw to Crystal Palace followed by a heartbreaking defeat at the Emirates to Arsenal.
The United boss started David de Gea in goal, with Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof ahead of him. Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Tyrell Malacia formed the full-back pairing.
Casemiro was restored to the midfield alongside Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes. Wout Weghorst started his third game in a row with Marcus Rashford and Antony on either side of him.
Here are three things we learned from Manchester United’s 3-0 victory against Nottingham Forest.
Dominant first half
United were by far the better side in the opening 45 minutes.
The Reds headed down the tunnel having mustered an impressive 68% of the ball compared to Forest’s 32%. Ten Hag’s men also registered more shots than Forest.
United had eight shots, with four being on target. Forest on the other hand had fice shots with only two requiring De Gea to swing into action.
United, who now have one foot in the final, broke the deadlock early through Rashford. The winger who is in the form of his life picked up the ball in his own half and went on a marauding run deep into Forest territory.
He produced a brilliant piece of skill to go past two defenders before firing a shot with his left foot past Wayne Hennessey.
The Red Devils’ second goal of the first half was scored by Weghorst. The striker who is on loan at Old Trafford showed great instincts inside the box to get on the end of a Hennessey spill from an Antony shot. The Dutchman made no mistake from close range to give United a healthy lead.
Defensively, United were solid apart from a few instances when the opposition caught them in transition.
Ten Hag cut a deeply frustrated and angry figure on the touchline during the first period of the game, but no doubt he would have been pleased with a two-goal lead after 45 minutes.
Weghorst is a positive addition
When Weghorst arrived at the club, many within the fanbase and media expressed their doubts about his qualifications and suitability to being the leading man in attack.
The 30-year-old is however steadily showing why Ten Hag was desperate to bring him in amidst a 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 by him with a goal – his first by him in a United shirt.
Beyond the goal, Weghorst excelled at holding the ball and linking play.
His work rate against Steve Cooper’s players cannot be faulted. The goalscorer pressed well and executed his defensive responsibilities to great effect.
The player’s passing was equally impressive and he was rarely dispossessed or ceded the ball to the opposition. Weghorst also provided a physical presence inside the box that the team has been crying out for.
While he may not be everyone’s number one preference, Weghorst is proving he can do a good job and do what is required of him.
One step closer to Wembley
United will take a healthy 3-0 lead at Old Trafford when they host Forest for the second leg.
Steve Cooper and his men will have to come up with something special to close the deficit.
The 3-0 lead heading into the second leg will certainly give Ten Hag and the players sufficient breathing room ahead of a tight schedule.
Ten Hag spoke at length about United’s trophy drunk and the Carabao Cup being a golden opportunity to end that long spell.
Tonight’s victory is a huge step towards achieving that goal.