Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Manchester Utd, Southampton in League Cup semis

Published:Thursday | December 1, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Manchester United's Anthony Martial (right) celebrates with teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic after scoring his side's second goal during the English League Cup quarterfinal against West Ham at Old Trafford in Manchester, England yesterday.


Henrikh Mkhitaryan's vision and Anthony Martial's cool finishing helped Manchester United into the English League Cup semi-finals as two of the team's out-of-favour forwards showed their worth yesterday.

United's 4-1 win over West Ham at Old Trafford was illuminated by Mkhitaryan's touch and eye for a pass in only his third start for the club since his high-profile move from Borussia Dortmund in the offseason.

The Armenia captain set up goals scored early in each half - by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Martial - before getting a standing ovation from United fans when substituted in the final minutes. By then, Ibrahimovic and Martial had each grabbed their second goals of a comfortable win that set up a semi-final match against Hull.

United manager Jose Mourinho has been holding back Mkhitaryan while he adapts to the English game. On this evidence, it's time for the last season's Bundesliga Player of the Year to be unleashed on a regular basis.

"We were waiting for his adaptation," Mourinho said, "and it looks like it's coming."

In the other quarter-final match on Wednesday, Southampton beat a largely second-string Arsenal team 2-0 thanks to first-half goals by Jordy Clasie and Ryan Bertrand at Emirates Stadium. Southampton advanced to the semi-finals of England's second-tier cup competition for the first time since the 1986-87 season, and will now face Liverpool.