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Saints surrender to Red Devils

Written By: Robert Halter

The 2017 EFL Cup Final took place at Wembley stadium end of February between Manchester United and Southampton, with the Red Devils aiming to win the league cup for a fifth occasion. On three minutes, Zlatan Ibrahimovic put the ball across to Paul Pogba in a switch of play, and Pogba tried a long range strike which was pushed away by Saints keeper, Fraser Forster. On eight minutes, Nathan Redmond weaved his way through after collecting a pass from Oriol Romeu, but his final shot took a deflection off the inside legs of Ander Herrera. The Saints then had the misfortune of having Manolo Gabbiadin’s close range strike being ruled out for offside, after Gabbiadini tucked away a low cross from the right side of the box by Cedric Soares. On fourteen minutes, Redmond again found a way through down the left but dragged his effort wide through an assist by Dusan Tadic. But it was the Red Devils that struck first on eighteen minutes, with no other than Ibrahimovic, as he bent a free kick over the Southampton wall, past a stranded Forster, into the bottom left corner of the net, after Romeu had been cautioned for a rash challenge on Herrera. On twenty eight minutes, as Saints captain, Steven Davis drove forward, a lay off by Gabbiadini fell to James Ward-Prowse, whose low drive from outside the box was kept out at full stretch by Red Devils shot stopper, David De Gea, with a save towards the bottom left side of the goal. On thirty one minutes as Redmond was the driving force, a low shot by Tadic was smothered by the body of De Gea. But on thirty seven minutes, Man U increased their advantage as Anthony Martial combined with Marcos Rojo, whose incisive pass found space for Jesse Lingard, who drilled the ball into the bottom right corner. In the forty third minute, a headed pass by Gabbiadini, freed space for Tadic but he could only find the outside netting of the right post, after fending off Pogba. But the Saints got a breakthrough just before half time, as Redmond found Ward-Prowse on the right, and his low cross was tucked under the legs of De Gea by Gabbiadini from close range. Before the re-start, Michael Carrick replaced Juan Mata. On forty seven minutes, from a delivery by Maya Yoshida, a snap shot by Redmond was pushed over with one hand by De Gea. But a minute later, the Saints were back on level terms from a Ward-Prowse corner and a poor headed clearance from Pogba  which was played back in by Davis, and an alert Gabbiadini, grabbed his second goal of the game, by turning the ball past De Gea, into the bottom right corner of the goal. On fifty eight minutes, a mistake by Forster presented the ball to Martial, who slid a pass through to Ibrahimovic, but Forster made amends for his error by blocking Ibrahimovic’s right footed shot. On sixty two minutes, after Antonio Valencia turned behind a low cross from Soares, from the resulting corner by Ward-Prowse, a header by Romeu, crashed against the top of the crossbar, before Rojo, turned the ball behind. In the seventh sixth minute, after Martial dropped the ball over from the left, the ball was thrashed high and wide by Lingard, who was then replaced by Marcus Rashford, while the Saints brought on Sofiane Boufal for Tadic. On eighty one minutes, a low strike by Redmond was deflected behind off the heel of Carrick, before Gabbiadini was replaced with Shane Long. In the eighty third minute, after Ibrahimovic played through Rashford, his strike was kept out by Forster’s legs, at the near post. But on eighty six minutes, Ibrahimovic was jolly on the spot, to head the ball home into the middle roof of the net following a perfect delivery by Herrera, on the right. Near the end, United took off Martial for Marouane Fellaini while the Saints replaced Davis with Jay Rodriguez, before Manchester sealed a 3-2 victory and celebrated lifting the EFL Cup with Ibrahimovic awarded the Alan Hardaker trophy for being voted man of the match.