Belfast Telegraph

Jose clams up as United reach final

By Graham Luney

Jose Mourinho can look forward to his first Cup final as Manchester United manager but he cut short a post-match interview fearing he would get into trouble for criticising officials.

United booked their place in the EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley on February 26 with a 3-2 aggregate win over Hull City, but they crashed to a 2-1 defeat in the second leg of their semi-final at the KCOM Stadium.

Tom Huddlestone's controversial penalty had put the hosts ahead before Oumar Niasse secured victory with his first goal for the club after Paul Pogba had equalised.

Birthday boy Mourinho's interview lasted just 30 seconds as he said: "I just want to say congratulations to my players because it was a difficult road to be in the final and we're in the final.

"I don't want to say anything else because it's enough. I'm calm, I behaved on the bench, no punishment so no more words."

United are into their ninth League Cup decider but midfielder Michael Carrick was downbeat as his side's 17-match unbeaten run came to an end.

"I'm just disappointed to be honest, with the way we played and losing the game," Carrick said. "It's a strange feeling. We wanted to keep our run going and our form going."

Carrick added: “We didn’t play well at all. Of course we are delighted to be there (in the final), we’ll shake it off and bounce into the next game.

“We expected a tough game, we expected them to come at us because they had to. We just didn’t play well for a number of reasons and we’re disappointed. We don’t like losing but we can take a final from it, so we are delighted to be there.

“We’re still very, very disappointed.”

Hull manager Marco Silva was pleased with his players but rued the two-goal deficit from the first leg.

“It was a good win but not enough for our goal,” he said.

“It is important to win the game but the result in the first leg caused problems for us.

“It was a good performance again, a good attitude and we controlled the game in large periods against a big team. It is impossible at this moment to feel really happy.

“The goal we conceded is not a normal goal, we lost control at the vital moment.

“It is important that we won the game. We have won three games in a row at home and when I arrived we had won once in two months. I congratulated the players in the dressing room.

“I hope to improve the squad with three or four players. We need them. We have 15 or 16 players, it’s not normal.”

Mourinho’s frustration at referee Jon Moss’ decision to point to the spot only grew as his own side were denied penalties, although United’s complacent stars had a lot to answer for.

Referee Moss controversially pointed to the spot after Marcos Rojo was adjudged to have fouled Harry Maguire, with Huddlestone firing home the resulting spot-kick to give Hull hope.

The home side, 19th in the Premier League, were given poise and confidence, but their hopes of just a second domestic cup final in their 113-year history were dashed when Pogba poked through the legs of Maguire and into the bottom corner from 10 yards.

Former Chelsea boss Mourinho could move level with Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson on four League Cup wins but his side will need to produce a far better display in the capital.

The final will arrive on the same day United were scheduled to face Manchester City in the league and four days after the second leg of a Europa League tie at Saint-Etienne.

Victory in this competition of course kick-started Ferguson’s success in 1992, and a quarter of a century on Mourinho will bid to maintain his unbeaten run in League Cup finals — he has won all three he has managed in.

Belfast Telegraph

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