The EFL Cup final at Wembley should be a glorious day for the fans of Manchester United and Southampton. For Man Utd it is probably just another cup final, but for Southampton, these days don’t come around too often, so they’ll be sure to enjoy it. There’ll be none of that here though. This is PES Predicts.
Southampton are of course without Virgil van Dijk and I really fear what Ibrahimovic will do to young Stephens in the Southampton backline. Anyway, the ball is in the centre circle and Peter Drury is babbling. It’s kick off time.
Carnage from the first whistle! Man Utd knock it about a bit before going long. Forster comes out to punch and gets half a slap on it but the ball only falls to Rooney, who smashes a half volley that Yoshida does well to block. Crikey.
SOUTHAMPTON LEAD. Redmond has it down the left, slides in Davis down the corner of the 18 yard box who passes it low to Gabbiadini on the penalty spot. It’s awful defending, as the Italian turns Smalling and side foots home. Beglin mentions tiki-taka, which is probably pushing it a bit, but Southampton’s fans are having a great time. Man Utd can’t get going at all. I blame Rooney.
The Saints are just spraying it around like a training match, no sign of nerves here at all. They’ve survived the first 25 minutes without a single threat. In fact, it should be 2-0! Only a great De Gea save to deny Tadic keeps it to a single goal. Then at the other end, Martial goes down on the edge of the box, Man Utd want a penalty, but the referee gives a free kick. It’s obviously correct, it’s a video game. Stop arguing. The free kick is wasted.
You can’t stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic! Well you probably can but plenty have tried and failed. Yoshida becomes the latest victim, as Mata teases a ball over the top and Ibrahimovic outmuscles the Japanese International before smashing a shot on the half volley into the corner. Simple goal, 1-1, and just 5 minutes until the break.
That is how it stays until the break, Beglin declares it a fantastic 45 minutes of football. It was alright Jim, let’s not over egg this Wembley pudding.
Phew, nearly a wonderful start to the second half as Rooney catches a volley flush but, fortunately for Southampton, it is straight at Forster. Southampton aren’t lying down though, Bertrand overlaps on the left, pulls it back and Ward-Prowse shoots wide. They’ve been good value so far, as the clock ticks over to an hour.
You just can’t keep him out of the news! Rooney tucks away a well worked move to make it 2-1, though he owes a debt of gratitude to Anthony Martial who showed great skill and control to fashion the chance, pulling it back to Rooney to side foot home from 6 yards. “WAYNE ROONEY, IT COULD ONLY BE HIM,” exclaims an over excited Drury. For once, I think he’s right. It’s the year of the Roonster. Southampton bring on Hojbjerg for Ward-Prowse for reasons I don’t understand.
Here comes Rodriguez and Long for Redmond and Tadic. All the changes are made, it’s ballsy from Puel. Oh my goodness what has he done here? Ball into the box is over Ibrahimovic, Bertrand tries to control it for some reason but instead just presents it to Zlatan, who even has time to take a touch before side footing it in from about 6 yards. It’s ludicrous. It’s terrible. It’s 3-1.
Southampton not done yet though, Gabbiadini forces a smart save out of de Gea before Rooney does similar down the other end with Forster. From the resulting corner, Southampton clear and before you know it, Shane Long has sprung the offside trap. He’s in! He scores! It’s 3-2, and game on, with 10 minutes to go. I’m nervous as to whether I remembered to put extra time on…
Man Utd withdraw Rooney for Schweinsteiger. Pretty sure that won’t happen. There’s only 2 minutes to go though. Four minutes to be added, Man Utd just keeping the ball. Southampton force a thrown in as Darmian comes on to waste time, 94 on the clock. Southampton fail to get a cross in, Davis miscontrols and Man Utd clear. FULL TIME! And it’s Mourinho’s first trophy for Man Utd. What a game.
A thoroughly entertaining cup final then, and one no neutrals will complain about if it goes the same way on Sunday. I can’t see it being that sort of game in reality, but maybe PES does know best? See you again.
PES Predicts: United 3 -2 Southampton