By Dominic Toner
Football Insider analyses three talking points from Manchester United’s 2-0 victory against Hull in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday night.
Rashford has much to improve on
Marcus Rashford was given a starting role as the central striker against Hull and he struggled against the Hull centre-backs. The 19-year-old certainly has a huge future ahead of him at United, but was quiet on Tuesday. He currently has the experienced Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a team-mate and must learn from him. Rashford is regarded as a wonderkid at Old Trafford and must now live up to the reputation. The striker has managed just six goals in 26 appearances this season and has dropped off since his breakthrough last campaign. The England international showed his phenomenal work-rate against Hull, but must focus on being a bigger threat in front of goal.
Mata is a big game player
Juan Mata once again came to the rescue for his side as he popped up with the opening goal. The Spaniard converted a simple close-range finish inside the penalty area and has proven to be a valuable player for United. He has contributed in several key games during his Old Trafford stay and did so again in the semi-final against Hull. The 28-year-old has turned up in most big games since his transfer from Chelsea and has managed to become a crucial player under Jose Mourinho. He has put United in a good position to reach the final and also scored the decisive goal in an earlier EFL round. Mata netted the winner in the fourth-round against great rivals Manchester City and has a great habit of popping up with important goals.
Herrera is the heartbeat of midfield
Ander Herrera once again delivered a sound performance against Hull and is a crucial player in the United side. Paul Pogba has been a revelation since he joined in the summer, but Herrera has been an unsung hero. The Spaniard is an ever-present in the midfield and is a real box-to-box player. He gives United great discipline in defence and also contributes to his side’s attacks. Herrera has cemented his place in Mourinho’s first-choice starting XI and has played a major role in the club’s recent winning run, which now stands at nine game consecutive victories in all competitions.
In other Manchester United news, the referee has been named for the upcoming game against Liverpool.