MANCHESTER UNITED 4, NORWICH 0 (CAPITAL ONE CUP)
A brace of goals by Javier Hernandez, plus goals by Phil Jones and Fabio ensured that Manchester United progressed to the Quarter-Final of the Capital One Cup with a comfortable victory as United’s second string created a succession of chances and converted four of them with a dominant performance against a similarly second string Norwich side. It was a rare night off from his Barclays Premier League troubles for David Moyes in which normal service was resumed for United with an easy victory at Old Trafford.
United assistant manager Steve Round acclaimed the performance of United’s youngsters in the Capital One Cup victory and highlighted Adnan Januzaj’s peformance playing just behind Hernandez.
“It’s always pleasing to win 4-0 at Old Trafford and it’s a good experience for our younger players to win here.
“Adnan is coming on from strength to strength.
“We see him as a seven, ten or eleven. He could play any of the attacking roles and our reserve coach says he could play as a number nine.”
He also claimed that Hernandez could play in the same team as Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie.
“Javier’s waited patiently for his opportunities and when they’ve come he takes them.” said Round.
“Saturday’s game ended with all three of them on the pitch.” he added.
Moyes made nine changes to the side that were victorious against Stoke on Saturday. The only survivors from that game were Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley but there was still pace to spare in attack and experience at the back with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic making their way back to match fitness following injuries. Wilfried Zaha made his first competitive appearance for Moyes at Old Trafford. Norwich manager Chris Hughton made eight changes with their return visit to Manchester to play City on Saturday in their mind but was hit with two costly injuries during the second half.
Javier Hernandez in particular made his case for a United start this weekend with a menacing performance up front, presenting a danger with his movement and pace and scoring two goals to finish off Norwich City who lost Robert Snodgrass to a nasty clash of heads with Rafael during the second half and subsequently also lost Nathan Redmond to a muscular side strain just above his hip.
The Mexican had three early half chances for United, being denied by brave Norwich defending, with clearances by Sebastian Bassong and Bradley Johnson denying him, and he was almost presented with a third chance when Ryan Bennett’s attempted clearance hit him but the loose ball was cleared before he could react.
It wasn’t long before the livewire Mexican got his chance to score, however, as a sudden and torrential downpour at Old Trafford coincided with a ball into the area for Adnan Januzaj. He was closely marked by Leroy Fer and was shepherded towards the goal line by the Dutchman when he tried to turn and slipped with the Norwich man in close attendance. Referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot much to the consternation of the visitors who claimed the young winger dived but Friend was having none of it and Hernandez stepped up to send Mark Bunn the wrong way – his strike going into the bottom left corner.
Norwich had a brief rally at the start of the second half when Elmander’s flick rolled agonisingly past the back post but United took the game away from the visitors with Hernandez’ second goal of the night. Ashley Young was growing in confidence and had a already sent a cross too high for Zaha at the back post when he picked out overlapping full back Alexander Buttner whose cross found Hernandez. The Mexican’s first time touch was parried into the air by Bunn but Hernandez kept his composure and headed the looping ball past Bunn when it came back down.
There was drama on 55 minutes when Robert Snodgrass bravely went up for Redmond’s cross but he clashed heads with Rafael after forcing Lindegaard into an acrobatic save to his right. There was almost ten minutes of tense treatment on the Norwich man in the six yard area where he fell before he was stretchered off to applause from Old Trafford and was replaced by Anthony Pilkington.
Snodgrass’ departure was followed by that of Nathan Redmond to a side strain as Norwich lost their attacking thrust and the game was effectively over as a contest by the time Wayne Rooney replaced Zaha in attack late on although Phil Jones made sure with 2 minutes of normal time to go when he volleyed home Sebastien Bassong’s defensive clearance of Hernandez’ cross from 15 yards out.
Fabio came during eleven minutes of injury time and his first action was to put icing on the Capital One cake for United and make the scoreline 4-0 which only served to underline home dominance after he latched onto Rooney’s crossfield ball and outpaced Steven Whittaker to score at Bunn’s near post.
There was to be no icing for Hernandez, though, as he spurned his hat trick when he headed Young’s right wing cross wide of the near post shortly afterwards.