Captain Harry Maguire said Manchester United “have to start lifting trophies” after they set up a Carabao Cup semi-final against rivals Manchester City with a late win at Everton.
United’s last domestic silverware was the League Cup in 2017 and they are within one game of another final after Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial broke Everton’s resistance at Goodison Park.
Cavani’s stunning curling effort from 20 yards opened the scoring in front of 2,000 fans, just as the game looked set to head to penalties.
With Everton chasing the game, substitute Martial added a second in stoppage time to send Ole Gunnar Solskjaer one step closer to earning his first trophy as United boss.
“We are expected to win trophies,” said Maguire. “It’s important to reach these big games but we have to start winning them and lift some trophies for this club.
“It was an excellent performance and we should have been out of sight, we had three or four great chances. We need to be more clinical.”
Everton were lacklustre in the second half, after Richarlison went off injured, having promised much in the first period, with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick testing Dean Henderson.
Defeat for Carlo Ancelotti’s team ends a run of three successive wins which has lifted them to fourth in the Premier League table.
Cavani shows class as away run continues
United continued their upsurge over the last month with a victory which means they have now won all nine of their domestic away games this season – a run which has seen them go third in the Premier League table with a game in hand on their rivals.
Despite making nine changes to the team which beat Leeds on Sunday after going 2-0 up inside three minutes, Solskjaer’s side began with a similar intensity but could not find a breakthrough against an Everton team whose defence has improved in recent games.
In keeping with their 3-1 win at Goodison last month, Bruno Fernandes was at the heart of their endeavour and in Cavani, they had a striker with a keen eye for goal despite missing the last few games through injury.
It was an eventful night for the former Paris St-Germain forward, who joined United in October.
Having tested Everton keeper Robin Olsen early on, he was then involved in an off-the-ball incident with Yerry Mina where he appeared to grab the Everton defender. Without the use of VAR until the semi-finals, neither player was punished.
There were also chances for Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba but once Everton found their feet midway through the first half, United found it hard to break down their opponents.
With the game petering out in the second half, Solskjaer sent on Marcus Rashford and Martial in search of a goal, but neither appeared to provide a spark.
That was until Martial found space on the counter attack to feed Cavani, who cut inside Ben Godfrey and found the bottom corner with a rasping strike for his fourth of the season.
With Everton committing players forward to take the game to spot-kicks, they allowed United to break twice more with Fernandes hitting the post on one surge before Martial finished a slick move for his fourth of the season too.
Having slipped up in three cup semi-finals last season, Solskjaer said he was “desperate” for silverware this campaign, and his side are showing signs they could win a first trophy for the club since their 2017 Europa League triumph.
Fans can’t help Everton as trophy search continues
Everton’s improvement in their last three games has been buoyed by being one of a handful of teams who can now allow fans into their stadium.
But on a cold and wet night at Goodison Park, where the supporters did their best to raise the team, Ancelotti’s side could not find a rhythm to overly trouble United, who looked like they had the extra guile to win the tie.
Much of Everton’s recent success has come by holding firm in defence and breaking on the counter attack, and there were moments when Henderson was called into action to deny Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin.
But much of their endeavour came from set-pieces, and when they lost Richarlison to what looked like a head injury following a collision with Eric Bailly, they struggled to get in behind the United defence.
Before the break, it was the much improved Sigurdsson who provided the hosts’ biggest threat, with his corner teeing up Calvert-Lewin and a weaving run leading to a blocked shot before his fizzing free-kick was saved.
After Cavani’s late finish, the fans in the Gwladys Street End urged an equaliser as Godfrey’s shot was stopped, but Ancelotti’s side missed out on a first semi-final since 2016 as their search for a first trophy since their 1995 FA Cup win continues.
‘We have no regrets’ – what they said
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti said: “We are disappointed because it was an important competition for us. We have no regrets because the team performed.
“We had a difficult start but after 20 minutes, defensively we were in control.
“In the second half we didn’t give an opportunity against a team which is really strong. We performed defensively, we were good until the end, we were close to the penalties but anyway no regrets, absolutely.”
Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “We had three semi-finals last year and it is a step not far enough.
“It was an excellent performance from the beginning. I thought we should have been one or two goals up at least.
“The first 25-30 minutes we put them under pressure and created loads of chances but you always know it will be difficult against Everton and they pegged us back in the last 15 minutes of the first half.
“We defended well and in the second half it was tight but we had a little bit of an upper hand.”
Everton return to the Premier League with a trip to bottom of the table Sheffield United on 26 December, before hosting Manchester City two days later.
Manchester United are away at Leicester on Boxing Day, and face Wolves at Old Trafford on 29 December.
United’s away form continues – the stats
Manchester United have reached the League Cup semi-finals for the 16th time, second only to Liverpool (17) in the competition’s history.
Everton failed to register a shot on target in the second half, with Gylfi Sigurdsson having 57% of their total attempts tonight (4/7).
This was United’s third clean sheet in 12 away games in all competitions this season, with all of these shutouts coming in the League Cup.
United have scored in each of their last 25 away games in all competitions, since a 0-2 defeat at Liverpool in January.
United are the first team to win away at Everton twice in the same season since Chelsea in the 2007-08 campaign.
This was United’s 14th consecutive away win in domestic competition, with the Red Devils last failing to win on the road in non-European competition against Spurs back in June (1-1).
Martial is the third substitute to both score and assist a goal for Manchester United in all competitions this season (Greenwood v Luton, Cavani v Southampton), with no sub having done this for the club in either 2018-19 or 2019-20.
Cavani’s late winner for came from his fourth shot on target in the match, which was one more than Everton managed.