UPDATE 2-Soccer-Martial, Fred strike as Man United ease past Forest into final

UPDATE 2-Soccer-Martial, Fred strike as Man United ease past Forest into final

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By Peter Hall

MANCHESTER, England, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Second-half goals from Anthony Martial and Fred earned Manchester United a comfortable 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Wednesday to secure a 5-0 aggregate victory and a place in the final of the League Cup.

January signing Wout Weghorst nearly followed up his first-leg goal with another in a first half of a few clean chances, from Casemiro’s header from an accurate cross against the post at Old Trafford.

United manager Erik ten Hag sent on top scorer Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Martial in the second half to try to end the tie and the French forward missed the opener in the 73rd minute.

Brazilian Fred put the icing on the cake three minutes later, hitting the far post to book his side a final meeting with Newcastle United on February 26, as Ten Hag’s side extended their winning streak at home to 12 games in all competitions.

“To be honest, the first half wasn’t great,” Ten Hag told Sky Sports. “I thought it was professional but too slow and we didn’t create too many chances.

“The second half was much better, more rhythmic and we scored some good goals. We just want to improve every day. I think we have a good team, so we have to demand and control the high standards.”

To say the odds were against Forest going into the game was an understatement, given that no side to have won the first leg of a League Cup semi-final by at least three goals had been knocked out before his trip to Manchester.

The away fans’ hopes of a huge upset were dashed yet again when they saw United’s starting line-up with Ten Hag name a strong squad, only resting goalkeepers David de Gea and Rashford.

It took United a while to get going despite their impressive recent run, with Casemiro’s header well saved, before Brazilian striker Antony flew from range.

Ten Hag’s substitutions proved too much for Forest as Martial converted after Rashford’s shot fell in his way, before Rashford slotted in Fred to add shine to a comfortable win.

United have now reached the League Cup final for the 10th time, with only Liverpool playing more as the club chase their first trophy since 2017.

“Congratulations to United and Newcastle, good luck to them in the final,” Forest manager Steve Cooper said. “Overall we are disappointed, of course, but in terms of getting to the final, the damage was done last week.” (Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond)

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