Manchester United 2-0 Hull: Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini hand Reds victory in EFL Cup semi-final first leg
Marouane Fellaini repaid Jose Mourinho's faith with a late header that gave Manchester United a 2-0 EFL Cup semi-final advantage against injury-ravaged Hull.
The Belgium midfielder has long been a divisive figure at Old Trafford and has even been jeered by pockets of home fans recently.
However, Fellaini has been continually backed by Mourinho and ended Tuesday's first-leg encounter with the Stretford End chanting his name after he nodded home a late goal to add to Juan Mata's close-range opener.
It was a late sucker-punch for a Hull side forced to play two midfielders in defence due to injury problems that worsened as Markus Henriksen and Josh Tymon were forced off in their first ever EFL Cup semi-final appearance.
Hull, bottom of the Premier League, equipped themselves well for the most part and it looked like Marco Silva's men would restrict United to Mata's 56th-minute goal, which came shortly after Wayne Rooney had passed up a fine chance to notch a record 250th goal for the club.
Paul Pogba hit the post as the Tigers dug deep, before substitute Fellaini rose at the far post to send in a looping header.
The midfielder went over to hug Mourinho after a goal that wrapped up a ninth successive win in all competitions for in-form United.
Man Utd: de Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Darmian, Ander Herrera, Pogba, Mata, Rooney, Mkhitaryan, Rashford. Subs: Martial, Lingard, Carrick, Blind, Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Fellaini.
Hull: Jakupovic, Meyler, Maguire, Huddlestone, Robertson, Mason, Snodgrass, Henriksen, Clucas, Tymon, Diomande. Subs: Hernandez, Maloney, Weir, Marshall, Bowen, Clackstone.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
A cup final place beckons for Jose Mourinho’s men as Manchester United face Hull City, two teams on different ends of the form spectrum, as United have won their last six games whereas Hull have won just twice in 12 matches.
It’s a big game for...
Wayne Rooney: Is there a chance that we see history made on Tuesday night? The Englishman equalled Sir Bobby Charlton’s club goalscoring record of 249 goals against Reading in the FA Cup on Saturday afternoon. The footballing world now waits with bated breath to see when he breaks the record.
In their last four games, Manchester United have scored at least three goals against Hull City, and the Tigers’ defensive injuries look set to be exploited by a potent attacking force that has scored 23 goals in the last 10 games.
Marcus Rashford already established himself as a future star by this point, but this goal eased pressure on the team and Jose Mourinho, as well as cementing his status as a teenage prodigy with this poaching finish in the 91st minute.
Player to watch...
Robert Snodgrass: A bright spark in an otherwise drab Hull season, the Scotsman has surprisingly been one of the league’s best players and is responsible for half of Hull City’s goals, scoring nine and assisting three.
Hull 0 Manchester United 1 (Rashford) Premier League, August 2016
Hull 0 Manchester United 0, Premier League, May 2016
Manchester United 3 Hull City 0 (Smalling, Rooney, Van Persie) Premier League, November 2014
Manchester United: WWWWWW
Hull City: LLLDLW
Kick-off time: 20:00
TV: Sky Sports 1
Manchester United to win: 2/11
Hull City to win: 16/1
Independent News Service