Man Utd has extended their winning run to nine games, in all competitions, after beating Hull 2-0 in the first leg of the English Football League Cup at Old Trafford.
With Man Utd facing Liverpool in a crucial Premier League tie on the weekend, you would have expected Jose Mourinho to field a weakened side against Hull in the first leg of the English Football League (EFL) Cup.
The Tigers were 20-1 to take the lead back to KCOM Stadium for the second leg. They had lost 11 of 12 previous meetings with the Red Devils, drawing the other one, and were without a win at Old Trafford in over six decades. Not to mention they are sitting bottom of the Premier League table with the new boss still searching around the office for the stapler.
Jose Mourinho wants to win this trophy. He didn’t give two hoots when they travelled to Sixfields Stadium to face Northampton back in September, but by now he can smell the silver. It’s his first season in charge, and that means any old trophy will do thank you very much.
Hull, on the other hand, were thankful for the opportunity to play a game of football without a trapdoor gaping beneath them. It was only Marco Silva’s second game in charge, and the man dubbed The New Mourinho had his work cut out with an injury list as long as Pele’s real name.
The Premier League relegation favourites fared well in the first half. United only had two shots on goal. One of them came from Juan Mata and the little Spaniard got on the end of a Henry Mkhitaryan knock-down to open the scoring in the 56th minute.
A 1-0 defeat, with a second leg to come, wouldn’t have been a bad result for Hull. But United sub, Marouane Fellaini, got on the end of a Matteo Darmian cross to head home the second goal in the 87th minute to effectively put United into the final.
Victory for United means they have now won their last nine games in all competitions, their best record since winning 11 on the spin back in 2009. They are the 5/6 favourites to win the competition; 4/1 to win the Europa League, and 6/1 second-favourites to win the FA Cup. The only competition the bookies don’t think they have a sniff in is the Premier League where their 10 point deficit means they are a 14/1 shot.
Hull had better start preparing for life in the Championship. The bookies make them 100/1 to win the EFL and 1/6 to leave the Premier League in the summer.
The EFL route so far
Northampton 1 v 3 Man Utd (Third Round)
Man Utd 1 v 0 Man City (Round of 16)
Man Utd 4 v 1 West Ham (Quarters)
Stoke 1 v 2 Hull (Third Round)
Bristol City 1 v 2 Hull (Round of 16)
Hull 1 v 1 Newcastle (3-1 Pens) (Quarters)
EFL Semi-Final Fixtures
Southampton v Liverpool (Wed, 11 Jan)
Liverpool v Southampton (Wed, 25 Jan)
Hull v Man Utd (Thu, 26 Jan)
Man Utd 5/6