Ahead of Manchester derby, Ten Hag’s faith in youngsters pays off in Utd’s tough Carabao win

MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United are into the semifinals of the Carabao Cup after a 3-0 win over Charlton Athletic at Old Trafford.

Antony scored a spectacular opening goal in the first half but United were only sure of progress past the League One side when substitute Marcus Rashford scored twice in stoppage time to find the net for the sixth game in a row.

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United are chasing their first trophy since 2017 and Erik ten Hag is into his first cup semifinal following his appointment as manager in the summer.

JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Postmatch quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures

Rapid reaction

1. Silverware in sight for Man United

It’s been more than five years since United won a trophy but Ten Hag has given himself a chance of ending the drought at the first opportunity.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reached semifinals in the Carabao Cup, FA Cup and Europa League and the 2021 Europa League final but couldn’t get over the line. After beating Charlton in the Carabao Cup quarterfinals, Ten Hag is two games away from a Wembley final and the chance to collect his first piece of silverware as United manager.

His reign at Old Trafford will be judged on whether he can win the Premier League or Champions League, but for a club starved of success the Carabao Cup is a good place to start. Sir Alex Ferguson started with the FA Cup in 1990 and went on to win everything and Solskjaer said repeatedly during his spell in charge that cup competitions can provide a valuable springboard to bigger and better prizes.

Ten Hag is smart enough to know that a trophy — and trophy — and a top four finish would represent a successful first season and, into his first semifinal, he’s given himself the opportunity to win something just a few months after taking over.

2. Ten Hag following through with academy promise

When United were looking for a new permanent manager to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, they told candidates they were looking for three things — a manager who could win trophies, play exciting football and bring players into the first team from the academy.

Ten Hag hasn’t had a chance to win a trophy yet but he’s made an early start with the youngsters and against Charlton he picked both Alejandro Garnacho and 17-year-old midfielder Kobbie Mainoo from the start.

Garnacho, 18, made his debut last season but has become a fixture in the first team squad under Ten Hag, scoring against Real Sociedad and Fulham.

Mainoo is still bouncing between the Under-21s and the first team — he started for the U21s at Fulham on Friday while Ten Hag’s team were beating Everton in the FA Cup — but has impressed enough in training to get his first taste of senior football.

Zidane Iqbal, 19, was also in the squad against Charlton and 19-year-old defender Rhys Bennett was on the bench as recently as the win over Nottingham Forest on Dec. 27. Ten Hag is under pressure to win now, but he’s also making good on his promise to keep one eye on the future.

3. Charlton make for a nervous night

Ten Hag said in his programme notes ahead of the game that his squad “would not underestimate the level required” against Charlton but maybe even he was surprised at the stubbornness of the League One side.

With the score at 1-0, the Dutchman was sufficiently concerned to throw on Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Rashford after 60 minutes — probably not part of his plan with a derby against Manchester City to come on Saturday. Tom Heaton, making his full debut in goal, deserves credit for the way he commanded his penalty area to claim a number of high balls into the box.

Charlton, managed by United fan Dean Holden and whose last away win at Old Trafford was in 1986, did enough to ensure their 9,000 travelling fans had enough to shout about and in the second half, in particular, they caused some nervous moments for the Premier League defence.

This was only Holden’s second loss after being appointed in December and for a large portion of the game the difference between the two teams was a spectacular strike from Antony. Charlton and Holden can take plenty of positives into their next game against Barnsley on Saturday.

Player ratings

Manchester United: Tom Heaton 7, Diogo Dalot 6, Tyrell Malacia 6, Harry Maguire 6, Lisandro Martinez 6, Fred 7, Scott McTominay 6, Kobbie Mainoo 6, Antony 7, Alejandro Garnacho 7, Anthony Elanga 6.

Subs: Aaron Wan-Bissaka 6, Casemiro 6, Christian Eriksen 6, Marcus Rashford 7, Facundo Pellistri 7.

Charlton: Ashley Maynard-Brewer 6, Sean Clare 6, Ryan Inniss 6, Lucas Ness 5, Steven Sessegnon 6, George Dobson 7, Albie Morgan 6, Scott Fraser 6, Jesurun Rak-Sakyi 6, Miles Leaburn 6, Corey Blackett-Taylor 5.

Subs: Eoghan O’Connell 6, Jack Payne 6, Jayden Stockley 6, Aaron Henry 6.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Alejandro Garnacho, Manchester United.

The Argentinian started brilliantly and United could have been 3-0 inside 10 minutes after his work on the left.

WORST: Corey Blackett-Taylor, Charlton Athletic.

He’ll wish he had shown Antony onto his weaker right foot rather than letting the Brazilian cut inside and score with his left.

Highlights and notable moments

Antony delivered this stunning curler to the top of the net that gave Manchester United the lead on route to the win.

After the match: What the players/managers said

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag, to BBC Radio: “We had to be in that semifinal and we did the job. I think we had to finish this off early on but in the end the objective was to get through so compliments to the team.”

Ten Hag on impact subs Marcus Rashford, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro: “It was the plan before to bring them on and keep them in the rhythm for the coming games … It is the standards of this team, the subs have to be ready and we saw that again today.”

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)

– Marcus Rashford becomes the first Man United player to score in eight straight home games since Wayne Rooney in 2010 (they are the only players to do it since 2004-05).

– Rashford also has more goals (6) in his last five games for Manchester United than he did in 32 games for Manchester United in all competitions in the 2021-22 season.

– Charlton have not defeated Manchester United since Nov. 1989.

Up next

Manchester United: It’s the Manchester derby with City traveling across town to Old Trafford in a match of top-four sides on Saturday. A big test against the defending Premier League champions, who currently sit in second behind Arsenal.

Charlton Athletic: Back to League One action with a home match vs. Barnsley on Saturday.


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