Aaron Wan-Bissaka of Manchester United in action with Renan Lodi of Nottingham Forest during the Carabao Cup Semi Final 1st Leg match between Nottingham Forest and Manchester United at City Ground on January 25, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Tonight’s game was the second meeting between these two sides and the score line replicated that of when they met at Old Trafford, last month.
Marcus Rashford opened the scoring for Manchester United, against a ‘keeper whom he has proven to be a thorn in the side of recently.
Wayne Hennessy has now faced Rashford three times for club and country this season, and Rashford’s goal tonight means that he has opened the scoring against the Welshman every time he has played him, in what has become an impressive campaign for the Man United attacker.
It was not all plain sailing for Erik ten Hag’s squad however, as Nottingham Forest almost secured an equaliser through Sam Surridge. Unfortunately for the home side though, Surridge’s effort was offside.
A couple of Forest counter attacks during the game were not enough to overcome United’s dominance in the game, with two more goals for the Red Devils seeing out the first leg.
Now, let’s assess how every player performed with a rating out of 10:
It only took 5 minutes for Hennessy to concede but despite what the score line would make you believe, the goalkeeper has definitely had worse games in recent times. He received very little help from his centre backs throughout the game and was also not afraid to face his opposing attackers with a head on approach. Hennessy could have done more to prevent the first goal though, as he was beaten convincingly at his near post early on.
Going forward, the former Tottenham Hotspur and PSG full back performed adequately. Aurier created 3 chances in the game in an attempt to help his side claw back into the game. Defensively however, the Ivorian looked out of his depth. He was outmuscled regularly and constantly found himself in rather poor positions that negatively impacted his team.
The Forest captain made very few noteworthy contributions to the game. He initially gave Man United’s second goal scorer in the game, Wout Weghorst, a tough physical battle. As the game progressed however, he faded out of the picture pretty quickly.
A performance similar to that of his centre back partner Joe Worrall, McKenna played a very insignificant part in the game. He did not make a single tackle all game and was often too slow to match the speed of some of United’s attacks.
Probably Forest’s best defender in the game, Lodi’s physicality was very effective in stopping Antony from achieving any sort of end product. He was able to anticipate a lot of his countryman’s decision making and even provided plenty of energy going forward until his substitution.
Another forgettable Forest player whose performance was very forgettable. Despite playing the full 90 minutes, Freuler offered way less to his side than his midfield teammates, who were subbed off instead of him. In truth, the Swiss midfielder did not really do anything apart from work mediocrely hard off the ball.
In his first full start, Danilo was likely to have turned a few heads. He settled into the game quickly despite only arriving in Nottingham from Palmeiras earlier in the month. His work rate saw him contribute defensively by winning 2 tackles, and he even tried to make things tick offensively for his new team, with 7 passes in the final third. The 21 year old may be one to look out for.
Much like Danilo, Scarpa arrived from Palmeiras this month and also played very well in this game. A flourish of solid chances at goal just before the half hour mark led to the Brazilian forcing a nice save from David de Gea. Scarpa’s energy meant that he was often in useful positions going forward and defensively, throughout the game.
The man who was signed for around £40m in the summer had a great game. Gibbs-White provided energy and determination which became quite the danger for Manchester United’s defence. He even assisted the disallowed goal which saw him play an almost perfect pass to Surridge. Gibbs-White’s end product (along with his attacking teammates) could have been better. His performance was cut short due to an injury concern.
The young Welsh forward was very lively, particularly in the first half. He made some lovely runs with the ball at his feet but simply did not have the end product to secure anything useful for Forest. He looked to be rather agitated with his performance towards the end of the game as he saw little of the ball in the second half.
While he did slot away a lovely finish that got disallowed by VAR, Surridge offered pretty much nothing else to the game. The striker arguably did not receive the service required to make a difference to the game but that was because he never put himself in reasonably effective positions. In the end, he was meat and drink for the Man United defence.
The Spaniard did not have much to deal with but when he was called to action he did just fine. Some questionable distribution from de Gea did not seem to cause United any issues.
The full back’s performance was just steady really. Forest’s diamond shape meant that he had very little to deal with defensively but in some occasions in the second half, Wan-Bissaka often left some defending to do for his wingers and meanwhile he would be stood in a pretty pointless decision marking nobody.
To fill the shoes of Raphael Varane is no easy task- even temporarily. However, the Swede was assured in his performance and grew into the game by disarming a couple of Forest attacks with some ease. His ball playing was often very reliable too.
The man of the hour (and a half), Martinez was excellent for United tonight. He won 4 tackles, made 3 headed clearances and completed 95 passes which was more than anybody on the pitch. The World Cup winner was ready for anything, not once was he caught lacking in concentration and was relentless in looking for a challenge. A sublime performance.
With 3 tackles won in the game, Malacia had a pretty good 90 minutes. His performance in the second half saw a much quieter display from Brennan Johnson as Malacia really managed to get in the Welshman’s head effectively.
It was not exactly a groundbreaking return to the starting lineup for Casemiro, who was suspended from United’s game at the weekend. The Brazilian was shown up a few times by Gibbs-White in certain physical battles, but Casemiro managed to settle into the game and completed an impressive array of passes.
The Danish midfielder was very impressive for United in the second half, as it was his play making which gave Nottingham Forest a lot to deal with. Eriksen managed to create a couple of chances as a result of a more than adequate 20 passes in the final third.
A mixed bag type of performance from Antony tonight, he was very lively down United’s right hand side but his end product was very underwhelming. He was also trying the same routine of cutting inside early and forcing the ball onto his left foot, which became obvious to Renan Lodi and those who accompanied him in defending from Antony. In the end, the winger just began to slow down United’s attacks in the second half, until his substitution.
This man is in severe need of a rest. On a multitude of occasions, Fernandes often had different ideas to the rest of his teammates which resulted in the waste of many Man United attacks. He still created some inviting chances for his team though, and his hard work earned him a goal in the 89th minute.
Once again, Rashford scored for Man United. His early strike puts him at the top of the scoring charts in the tournament and at the moment it is safe to say he looks almost unstoppable. Rashford was very energetic down United’s left hand side and was the route of a lot of the problems that Nottingham Forest had to deal with.
The tallest man to ever play for Manchester United had a very strong game for his new club. He often dropped deep to link up play and then would arrive in the final third to continue to make things tick. His goal was one that required a real striker’s instinct, as he was in the right position and state of mind to make the most of a rebounded shot. This game really showed United fans why Erik ten Hag brought his fellow countryman to the club.
Jack Colback for Danilo (58’), Jesse Lingard + Emmanuel Dennis for Scarpa + Surridge (64’), Lewis O’Brien + Neco Williams for Gibbs-White + Lodi (73’).
The Forest substitutes all made very little impact on the game. By the 58th minute in which the first substitution was made, the atmosphere surrounding the game felt as though Man United had put it to bed. Those who came on for Forest did not exactly change that and the nature of the third goal in which Neco Williams failed to fully clear a chance, reflected their time on the pitch quite fittingly.
Alejandro Garnacho for Rashford (57’), Fred + Facundo Pellistri for Eriksen + Antony (71’), Anthony Elanga for Weghorst (85’).
As for United, their substitutes were a little more impactful. Fred quickly settled into the game and was steady until the whistle. Garnacho tried very hard to create chances down the flanks, but ultimately fell short on a number of occasions. Pellistri was feisty and almost gave a penalty away with a foul just outside the box that earned him a yellow card. Finally, Elanga assisted Fernandes’ goal with a very clever scoop pass.