Luton Town 0, Manchester United 3 (Carabao Cup 3rd Round)
Super subs Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood scored late to send Manchester United through against Luton Town in the Carabao Cup.Embed from Getty Images
Juan Mata had earlier scored from the penalty spot but the second string Manchester United side struggled to make clear chances against the Hatters.
Mata’s successful spot kick was the 19th that the Reds had converted from 23 awarded in little over a year as United struggled to finish off the Hatters who could have been level late in the game thanks to a double chance for Tom Lockyer.
But United had already brought on the big guns and their late goals were disappointing for the second string Hatters who lost for the first time in 10 games.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted with the debut of goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who made a crucial save to prevent Luton from equalising late on, and for the time on the pitch which helped United’s squad players gain some more fitness.
He said: “He’s a keeper who did his job. David [De Gea]’s done it for years and Dean did it today.”
He added: “There was some nice goals at the end, and a good work out.”
But he remained tight lipped on possible future transfer business while praising Jesse Lingard who had a decent game:
“I thought Jesse was bright, he’s getting closer to a goal.” said Solskjaer, adding: “We’re working with the players we have, let’s see what happens.”
Only Harry Maguire remained from the side that lost to Crystal Palace on Saturday and of the fringe United players named in the side Henderson was making his debut in goal after a successful season on loan at Sheffield United last term.
Luton followed a similar philosophy, naming only 2 defenders from the side that won at the weekend.
With United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitting that his players were short of fitness due to the short pre-season it was almost inevitable that the bright start would not last.
Jesse Lingard kept the tempo up for the Reds early on, supplying Juan Mata with the ball for a log range effort that was saved by James Shea.
It wasn’t the only chance that United had but they certainly lacked a bit of finishing sparkle as Luton defended well.
Mata was denied again by Shea later after Lingard produced a cut back from the left touch line which Donny van de Beek dummied.
Yet despite those two good chances for United Luton managed to keep the Reds at bay until George Moncur brought down Brandon Williams in the area with a clumsy challenge after the Hatters failed to complete a clearance.
Juan Mata stepped up and converted his third chance on target with a firmly struck goal into the bottom right corner.
It was the Reds’ 23rd spot kick awarded since the start of last season and the 19th scored in all competitions – more than any other English league side.
Lingard blazed high and wide after the break as Luton risked more to try and get the equaliser.
And yet the quality from United wasn’t consistently there although the Hatters failed to test Henderson.
Indeed, United almost scored a second shortly after the hour mark with Mata creating a chance for Lingard with a cut back but his shot from an acute angle was cleared off the line by ex-United player Ryan Tunnicliffe while Nemanja Matic’s long shot was denied by a Shea save shortly afterwards.
Lingard blazed over again after Aaron Wan-Bissaka teed him up for another chance from the edge of the box while van de Beek forced another fine save out of Shea with a powerful effort as United kept up the pressure.
Second string United need super subs to finish off Luton Town
Solkjaer made a triple change with 11 minutes to go, bringing on Rashford, Greenwood, and Bruno Fernandes for Mata, van de Beek, and Odion Oghalo.
There was late drama for Luton as Henderson finally had to make a save – his first in a United shirt – with 9 minutes to go when he clawed away Tom Lockyer’s header and his follow-up was cleared by Eric Bailly on the line.
United nerves were jangling but they managed to make the game safe in the 88th minute when Rashford got the ball off Greenwood, went past Norrington-Davies at speed, and fired past Shea.
Rashford could have doubled the lead in injury time but for a save by Shea but the young keeper could do nothing about Greenwood’s cut in from the right and lethal finish from an acute angle.
United will travel to Preston North End or Brighton for the 4th Round of the Carabao Cup next week.
GOALS – Luton Town 0, Manchester United 3
Luton Town 0, Man Utd 1: 44. Juan Mata sent James Shea the wrong way from the penalty spot after Brandon Williams had been brought down by George Moncur while trying to retrieve the loose ball in the box.
Luton Town 0, Man Utd 2. 88. Marcus Rashford finished with aplomb after Mason Greenwood held up the ball before laying it off to his strike partner who raced pasy Rhys Norrington-Davies to score past James Shea.
Luton Town 0, Man Utd 3: 90+2. Mason Greenwood cut in from the right and placed his low ball inside the back post – it bounced over the outstretched hand of James Shea to give the result a harsh sheen.
MATCH STATS – Luton Town 0, Manchester United 3
Luton Town: Shea, Kioso, Lockyer, Bradley, Norrington-Davies, Shinnie, Tunnicliffe, Moncur (Lee 76), Clark (Cornick 76), Hylton, LuaLua
Luton Town subs not used: Cranie, Pearson, Sluga, Mpanzu, Collins
Booked: Kioso 68 (foul on Eric Bailly); Hylton 85 (foul on Brandon Williams)
Man Utd: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Williams, Fred, Matic, Mata (Fernandes 79), van de Beek (Rashford 79), Lingard, Ighalo (Greenwood 79)
Man Utd subs not used: Grant, Dalot, James, Mengi
Booked: Williams (foul on Kazenga LuaLua)
Goals: Mata pen 44; Rashford 88; Greenwood 90+2
Referee: Tim Robinson