Nottingham Forest 0-3 Manchester United (EFL Cup Semi Final 1st Leg) 25.01.23
Nottingham Forest were well beaten by Manchester United in the first leg of the Carabao Cup at the City Ground as the Red Devils attack proved too hot for the Garibaldi defence, soft and butter like at times as the away side slid their lukewarm knife through on numerous occasions to set up a huge three goal lead going into next Wednesdays’ second leg at Old Trafford.
The match proposed a classic encounter, the famous atmosphere under the lights by the Trent, a big cup tie, the rendition of Mull of Kintyre belted out by home fans before an alarming flat, subdued City Ground, was silenced by a slow start, and United taking the lead, Marcus Rashford had already had a couple of scary runs at Joe Worrall, before turning him inside out to waltz into the penalty area and shoot straight past Hennessey who might himself have done better.
That was six minutes in and it might have got worse but for the shooting boots of Antony not being as sharp as his opposite ‘winger’. The Brazilian blazed over one opportunity before playing a sharp one-two on the edge of the area which was saved well this time by the feet of Forest’s Welsh International keeper.
The Reds however fought back and gave hope to their watching fans, sloppy United play in midfield was capitalised on by Morgan Gibbs White, who else, the former Wolves man looking like every bit of money paid for him being great business by Steve Cooper who has held him in high esteem since his days with England U17’s and that World Cup in 2017.
MGW sliding Sam Surridge through who does what he does best, right footed into the bottom corner to score what looked like a leveller, but VAR adjudged the former Bournemouth strikers knee cap to be closer than the leading arm of second to last Manchester United defender Martinez to the United goal-line, it’s all very finicky and after the huge celebrations of Forest fans believing they were back in the tie filtered, the realism was, another goal chalked off for forensics, football on the frontline continues to have it’s life and soul sucked out of it, by technology, however ‘correct’ it may be.
That disallowed goal might have dampened the spirits but instead gave Forest hope as they battered the United door down for twenty minutes or so without luck, Scarpa testing Spanish goalkeeper De Gea with a side footed volley from outside the area, Brennan Jonson often too hot for the Devils defence, he couldn’t convert on the couple of occasions he speedily skipped by his men.
It all set us up for an enthralling second half, then Wout Weghorst scored and that was that.
The big Dutchman just ‘had’ to score his first goal against Forest. You wouldn’t have noticed he’d been playing until a shot from outside the box was fired at Hennessey who palmed back towards danger where the former Burnley striker stood waiting, to smash back into the Trent End goal ahead of the Referees whistle for half time.
That pretty much ended the tie prior to the interval, Forest then came out for ten minutes or so with honourable intentions during a second half push, but after the busy looking debutant Danilo was subbed on the hour, before Scarpa and Surridge followed, Forest’s huff and puff eventually blew out of steam, the Reds in the end falling on a whimper as United ended in cruise control., their fans even out-singing the ‘infamous’ City Ground faithful.
It got worse, star player Morgan Gibbs White looked to have suffered hopefully what is just a minor injury, taking no risks on 73, Steve Cooper immediately substituting his number ten.
Christian Eriksen hit the bar with a curling shot, United continued to cause the Forest defence problems, and with a minute left of the ninety, Bruno Fernandes smashed home a ball pulled back from Swedish sub Anthony Elanga, to wrap up the game, and possibly set, and match, and a place at a Wembley final with it.
Positives for Forest will be through Brazilian duo Scarpa and Danilo who look to have added quality in the Reds midfield engine room, negatives will highlight perhaps the goalkeeper who deputises for the injured and cup tied Dean Henderson, certainly the centre halves who struggled with pace, possibly the lack of attacking options off the bench, Emmanuel Dennis doing himself no favours again when he came on. Forest did not play very well for long enough, but against Manchester United, the task was always going to be tough, a big push at Old Trafford for the opening 45 minutes next Wednesday, and if in contention the Reds could go out in a blaze of glory, or pull back the biggest shock in Carabao history, more realistically the Reds can instead concentrate thoroughly on survival by getting their second leg out the way, and building a team good enough to not only stay in the Premier League, but perhaps one day, even compete with sides like Manchester United for trophies more often.
Nottingham Forest: Hennessey, Aurier, Worrall, McKenna, Lodi (Williams 73), Danilo (Colback 58), Freuler, Scarpa (Lingard 64), Johnson, Surridge (Dennis 64), Gibbs-White (O’Brien 73).
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bisakka, Martinez, Lindelof, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred 71), Antony (Pellestri 71), Fernandes, Rashford (Garnacho 57), Weghorst (Elanga 85).
Venue: City Ground (29,325)
*Main image @NFFC Gustavo Scarpa in action for Nottingham Forest.