EFL Cup: Mourinho on course for first taste of silverware with Manchester United
Hull City 2 Manchester United 1 (2-3 agg)
Jose Mourinho began each of his spells at Chelsea with triumphs in the League Cup and he will get the chance to do so again with Manchester United.
The Portuguese will aim for a fourth victory from as many finals when his side face Southampton at Wembley on February 26 but this semi-final second leg was not the procession to Wembley it was meant to be.
Hull lost the war but won this battle, subjecting Mourinho to a first League Cup defeat in normal time for 28 matches.
Leading 2-0 from the first meeting, United were at full strength against a weakened Hull side, who are second-bottom of the Premier League.
For much of the match, Hull, spirited and disciplined - under their own Portuguese coach in Marco Silva - were much the better side.
Hull led from the 35th minute through Tom Huddlestone’s penalty hopes of reaching a first league cup final were stirring before Paul Pogba benefited from a slice of fortune to make it 1-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.
With five minutes remaining, Oumar Niasse put Hull ahead to raise home hopes again.
United are still involved in four competitions but Mourinho resisted the urge to rest star players. He might have wish he had.
Conversely, Hull’s line-up was surprising. Marco Silva, the head coach, made seven changes from the team beaten by Chelsea on Sunday, with recent academy graduates Jarrod Bowen and Josh Tymon selected to start.
This was East Yorkshire’s first semi-final but cup fever had seemingly failed to grip the natives.
There was no need for the upper West Stand at the KCOM Stadium to be open to anyone other than press and the away supporters easily outsang their hosts for most of the evening.
The size of the task facing the team was a factor, but the apathy among some Hull supporters is fuelled by discontent with the club’s owners.
The home fans finally made some noise in the 25th minute, when there was a minute’s applause in support of Ryan Mason, the Tigers midfielder who is being treated in hospital after suffering a fractured skull during Sunday’s match at Stamford Bridge.
As if in response to the increased volume, two minutes later Silva’s side created a chance that really ought to have seen them take the lead.
Tom Huddlestone’s hopeful hoof back into the box after a corner was beautifully controlled by Michael Dawson, but the centre-back’s slight hesitation allowed
Chris Smalling to make a fine tackle to block the shot eight yards out.
The loose ball fell to Oumar Niasse, whose shot was beaten away by David De Gea.
If the lack of atmosphere and changes to the team were a ploy by Silva to lull United into a false sense of security, it certainly worked.
Mourinho’s team were pedestrian for most of the of the first half and, ten minutes before the break, the home fans really had something to shout about thanks to referee Jon Moss’s decision to award their team a penalty.
Attacking a corner kick, Tigers defender Harry Maguire hit the turf and, while it was not immediately clear why, replays showed Marcos Rojo had pulled his shirt.
United’s players protested angrily but Hull’s Huddlestone kept his composure to drill the ball low into the corner.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was denied by a smart low save from David Marshall but Hull saw out the half comfortably and belief was growing.
Mourinho sat on the bench with a face like thunder and his mood darkened when United were denied a penalty early in the second half.
As the visitors forced the agenda, Smalling, attacking a corner, went down under pressure from Huddlestone but Moss was not interested in appeals for a spot-kick.
The visitors turned the screw and Hull finally cracked when Huddlestone, tracking back, proded the ball away from Rashford and straight into the path of Pogba, who poked the ball low beyond Marshall. It felt cruel on Hull.
Both sides hit the bar – with headers from Rojo and Niasse – and Hull made it interesting again when David Meyler crossed for Niasse to side-foot home from 10 yards.
Hull City (4-2-3-1): Marshall; Meyler, Maguire, Dawson, Tymon; Huddlestone, Clucas; Bowen (Markovic, 59), Maloney (Evandro, 64), Diomande (Hernandez, 69); Niasse.
Substitutes: Kuciak, Robertson, Elabdellaoui, Weir.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Carrick, Herrera; Rashford, Pogba, Lingard (Rooney, 79); Ibrahimovic.
Substitutes: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan.
Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire).
Independent News Service