Relief for Mourinho as Man Utd beat Northampton
Manchester United prevailed 3-1 at third-tier Northampton Town in the English Football League Cup on Wednesday to ease some of the pressure beginning to build on manager Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho had seen United lose their three previous games, but goals from Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and substitute Marcus Rashford at Sixfields took his side into the fourth round.
Holders Manchester City also progressed after winning 2-1 at Swansea City, joining Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in the hat for the last 16.
United’s victory was a welcome tonic for Mourinho and his team following consecutive losses to Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford.
He made nine changes to the side beaten 3-1 at Watford on Sunday, with Chris Smalling and captain Wayne Rooney the only players to keep their places.
Rooney started up front, for the first time since last season, and squandered an early opportunity by miscuing from Ashley Young’s cross.
United went ahead in the 17th minute after Northampton goalkeeper Adam Smith was penalised for picking up a back-pass.
Rooney’s shot from the ensuing free-kick hit the wall, but Carrick swept the rebound into the top-left corner from the edge of the box.
Rooney then saw a goal ruled out for offside, but Northampton gave United a scare when Kenji Gorre clipped the bar in the 38th minute and within four minutes the home side were level.
After Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Morgan Schneiderlin all spurned chances to clear, Daley Blind tripped Sam Hoskins and Alex Revell stroked the resulting penalty past Sergio Romero.
Mourinho waited only 10 minutes in the second half before turning to the bench, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rashford replacing Fosu-Mensah and Memphis Depay.
– Kompany comeback –
Herrera gave Northampton a warning with a left-foot shot that struck the post and in the 68th minute he restored United’s lead, slamming home right-footed from Rashford’s lay-off.
Another Smith error allowed United to seal victory, the goalkeeper hesitating as a long ball bounced towards him, which allowed Rashford to steal in and lash the ball into the vacant goal.
Manchester City made it nine wins from nine games under Pep Guardiola with victory at Swansea.
The visitors, wearing a lurid orange and purple change kit, gave a first start of the season to skipper Vincent Kompany, who has been working his way back to fitness after a thigh injury.
City enjoyed the best of the first half, but it took until four minutes into the second half for Gael Clichy to put them ahead with a deflected shot.
Aleix Garcia made the most of a rare start by netting the second from Jesus Navas’s cut-back in the 67th minute before Gylfi Sigurdsson stabbed in a stoppage-time consolation for Swansea.
West Ham United, struggling for form in the Premier League, needed a 96th-minute Dimitri Payet free-kick to edge fourth-tier Accrington Stanley 1-0 at London Stadium.
Charlie Austin and James Hesketh scored as Southampton beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in an all-Premier League tie at St Mary’s.
Paddy McNair scored twice as Sunderland came from behind to win 2-1 at second-tier Queens Park Rangers.
In the two late games, Tottenham Hotspur host third-tier Gillingham and Hull City travel to Stoke City.
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