Manchester United will lead 3-0 in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest next week, having already put one foot in the Wembley final next month.
Marcus Rashford and Wout Weghorst both scored in the first half for Erik ten Hag’s side, who weren’t always at their best over the course of the 90 minutes, with Bruno Fernandes adding a third late on.
In their first trip to City’s turf since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored four times in an 8-1 win in 1999, the visitors got off to a flying start when Rashford ran the ball in from inside his own half, cutting inside the pitch as he reached for the penalty. Quietly finished with just six minutes on the clock.
Forest seem to be struggling with their form – essentially a midfield diamond offering little width in midfield and inadequate protection for the full backs. It emerged because United continued to threaten from the outside and Anthony had a couple of missed chances.
A goal was ruled out by VAR in the woods against the run of play midway through the first half – Sam Surig’s knee was slightly offside – but showed potential danger at the break.
Despite the disappointment of scoring a goal, it seemed to give the hosts some hope and momentum as Gustavo Scarpa forced David De Gea to save an accurate shot. Brennan Johnson’s pace also created a threat and soon gave him two good chances that he couldn’t take.
Both teams had chances to score, and United’s fine move put Anthony in the goal, where the Brazilian was unable to lift it over the onrushing Wayne Hennessy.
But Hennessey was guilty when United had some breathing room at the end of the first half. He didn’t handle Anthony’s shot properly, bouncing the ball back into the danger zone and Weghorst was there to cleverly chip away at the rebound.
The Forest goalkeeper started the second half better, making a save from close range to deny Wighurst a second. But he could only look on and hope when Christian Eriksen’s effortless effort from the edge of the box hit the bar.
Eriksen’s influence on the game grew as the minutes went by, and while Forest had a chance when Morgan Gibbs-White cut through Casemiro’s pocket in a dangerous area, only to volley the resulting shot wide, United were increasingly in control and stifled the hosts.
A late third goal from Fernandes was a fine shot from the United captain, driving a low shot past Hennessey after Forest had failed to deal with the initial danger of the ball into the penalty area.
GK: Wayne Hennessy – 5/10 – He produced some decent balls but did not block himself in glory for any of United’s first half goals.
Right back: Serge Aurier – 5/10 – Sprinting towards his own goal without much speed miles off the pace as Rashford put United ahead.
Center back: Joe Worrall – 5/10 – Easily defeated by Rashford with an early goal.
Centre-back: Scott McKenna – 5/10 – You didn’t lose the ball much but what does it matter when three goals have been scored?
Left back: Renan Lodi – 5/10 – Anthony had more chances than Forrest could possibly have been happy with.
CM: Danilo – 7/10 – Always be careful not to lose possession cheaply and do a lot to get it back.
CM: Remo Freuler – 5/10 – He struggled to make a huge impact on the game.
CM: Gustavo Scarpa – 7/10 – He impressed in stages, particularly with a well-controlled shot that needed De Gea to save.
AM: Morgan Gibbs White – 7/10 – At the heart of the game’s good jungle spells. Brutally forced out with what appears to be an injury.
Forward: Brennan Johnson – 6/10 – Pace made him a threat, especially on the break. He had some chances he might think he could have done better.
Forward: Sam Surridge – 5/10 – The ball was in the net in the first half, only to be seen by the VAR on an offside knee. I haven’t seen much of him other than that.
SUB: Jack Colback (59 min to Danilo) – 6/10
SUB: Jesse Lingard (64 min for Scarpa) – 6/10
SUB: Emmanuel Dennis (64 min for Surridge) – 5/10
SUB: Neco Williams (73 min Lodi) – 6/10
SUB: Louis O’Brien (73 min to Gibbs White) – 6/10
Steve Cooper – 5/10 – The players seemed a little unsure of the form in the first half and the wide gaps at those crucial stages really worked in United’s favour. His team was simply too open.
GK: David De Gea – 7/10 – Not a quiet night by any means.
Right back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 6/10 – He was nearly burned by Johnson at one point but was very solid.
Center back: Victor Lindelof – 6/10 – Perhaps he was guilty of leaving too much space when Surridge scored an offside goal – he got away with it on that occasion.
Center back: Lisandro Martinez – 8/10 – He bent low to put his head in pain in the first half and put himself physically in pursuit of the clean sheet.
Left-back: Terrell Malacia – 7/10 – stubborn and energetic.
CM: Casemiro – 7/10 – Returned to United’s midfield base after being suspended for the weekend. his usual performance.
CM: Christian Eriksen – 8/10 – It’s a pity to see a great shot come back off the bar and start to be more dominant in the second half.
RM: Anthony – 6/10 – Lots of good touches and promising interaction. It still lacked clinical advantage as many opportunities went begging.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – He risked the ball but created some chances and was eventually rewarded with a goal at the end.
Left midfielder: Marcus Rashford – 8/10 – A goal six minutes later. Forrest was well dilated in his left channel and was out within the hour with his work through the night.
ST: Wout Westhorst – 7/10 – Off the mark in United colors with a good catch finish.
Sub: Alejandro Garnacho (57 minutes for Rashford) – 6/10
SUB: Fred (71′ by Eriksen) – 6/10
SUB: Facundo Pellistri (71′ by Anthony) – 5/10
SUB: Anthony Elanga (85 min Leghurst) – Not applicable
Eric Ten Hag – 8/10 – The starting eleven reflected how seriously he was taking this competition as an opportunity to end his six-year trophy drought in the United States. But he was also able to rotate once his team had a healthy drive and was in control.