Manchester United brush aside Stoke to book their League Cup semi-final place
Goals from Ashley Young and Patrice Evra set up a semi-final clash with Sunderland
Manchester United’s Patrice Evra scores his side’s second goal despite the efforts of Stoke’s Republic of Ireland international Glenn Whelan during the English League Cup quarter-final at the Britannia Stadium. Darren Staples/Reuters
Stoke City 0 Manchester United 2
The Manchester United faithful left in fine heart after their side progressed to the League Cup semi-finals, then awaited the prognosis on Wayne Rooney whose injury meant he missed this trip to the Potteries.
With the Dutch international Robin van Persie already out for a month because of a groin problem the United manager, David Moyes, delivered the words no fan wanted when in the pre-game interview, he said: “Wayne Rooney is injured.” Asked if the England forward will be fit for the festive season, Moyes answered: “We hope so.”
While United’s season may hinge on when Rooney returns this was a thoroughly heartening evening for Moyes.
He watched Ashley Young score his first goal since May 2012 and heard the away support sing his name in an offering of welcome succour during a game that was held up for five minutes in the first half by a hail storm which forced the referee Mark Clattenburg to take the sides off after half an hour.
Stoke had last lost at the Britannia Stadium in late September, when Norwich City beat them 1-0 in the Premier League.
Their manager, Mark Hughes had said: “Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than to emulate Tony Waddington and guide a Stoke City side to League Cup glory.”
But to reach the semi-finals and move a step closer to matching the triumphant 1971-2 side of Gordon Banks, Jimmy Greenhoff and George Eastham, Stoke faced a United team including Anderson for the first time in three months and in which Tom Cleverley was playing behind Danny Welbeck in the position more usually occupied by Rooney.
And it was United who began the brighter and they came close to scoring moments after the start when Welbeck found Ashley Young whose shot rifled the side netting.
United’s right-back Rafael Da Silva was the first to be bemused by the blustery conditions when a regulation ball from Chris Smalling bounced over his right leg and out of play.
Keeping the ball on the ground was the response and Stoke showed how with a smooth move along their right flank that ended with Geoff Cameron cutting in and hitting a left-foot shot which failed to test David De Gea.
The best United offered as the half hour approached was an Anderson attempt and a mazy run from Patrice Evra that required a colleague to capitalise.
Then the hail began to fall and Clattenburg took the sides off. The break lasted only a short time and while the conditions were more accommodating when play resumed it did little to raise the quality.
United could have broken the deadlock when Cleverley’s corner from the right was moved on by Smalling but his fellow defender Jonny Evans could not finish from close range.
The contest needed a goal and the way in which Cleverley, Valencia and Anderson zipped the ball around to play in Rafael down the right suggested United were the more likely.
By the 58th minute Moyes replaced Anderson with Javier Hernandez. With United camped in the Stoke half the tie looked the visitors to win and moments later the United manager’s substitution was vindicated when the Mexico striker provided the deftest of lay-offs from which Young blasted a shot past Sorensen after 62 minutes.
United looked in control of proceedings. However, there were still scares at their end. Jonathan Walters fired in an 30-yard effort that deflected off Evans for a corner.
For Moyes satisfaction was complete when Evra confirmed the win with a fine finish with his right foot after Young had played the left-back into a scoring position. The manager ended being regaled with the fond chant of Come on David Moyes to leave him in no doubt of the support he retains.
STOKE CITY: Sorensen, Cameron, Shawcross (Adam 76), Wilson, Pieters, Palacios, Whelan, Walters, Ireland, Assaidi (Arnautovic 62), Crouch. Subs not used: Begovic, Muniesa, Pennant, Jones, Wilkinson.
MANCHESTER UTD: De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Cleverley, Jones, Anderson (Hernandez 58), Valencia, Welbeck (Fletcher 82), Young. Subs not used: Nani, Kagawa, Buttner, Zaha, Johnstone. Booked: Young.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
Attendance: 25, 928