Keep at arm’s length: Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates scoring their fourth goal against West Ham in the English League Cup quarter-final match at Old Trafford on Wednesday. — Reuters
LONDON: Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho lauded his players’ “beautiful football” after they overwhelmed West Ham 4-1 to set up a League Cup semi-final date with Hull.
United are toiling in the English Premier League, where a run of four consecutive home draws has contributed to their worst start to a top-flight campaign since 1989.
But they produced some irresistible football against West Ham at Old Trafford on Wednesday, prevailing through a brace apiece from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial.
“I’m pleased with the goals because the performance is something that we are used to,” Mourinho told Sky Sports, before ducking his post-game press conference.
“We are playing very, very well at home and today was more of the same.
“After that goal (West Ham’s equaliser), we had 10 minutes where we felt it deeply and the players on the pitch could not hide that because West Ham’s first shot, they equalised.
“But in the second half the team got again the confidence to play and to win comfortably and play beautiful attacking football, which is something that the fans like. But we need results.”
Mourinho was not present in the dug-out, having earlier been given a one-game touchline ban for angrily booting a water bottle during United’s 1-1 draw with West Ham in the league on Sunday.
He could not be seen in the directors’ box and when asked where he had watched the game, he said it was a “secret”.
He had seen his side concede inside two minutes on Sunday, but here it was United who struck first as Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s deft back-heel released Ibrahimovic to beat West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.
Ashley Fletcher, who left United for West Ham in July, equalised in the 35th minute after David de Gea allowed Dimitri Payet’s shot to bounce away from him.
But Martial scored twice, confidently tucking away right-wing passes from Mkhitaryan and then Antonio Valencia, before Ander Herrera teed up Ibrahimovic for United’s fourth goal in stoppage time.
Herrera was freed by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who received a warm ovation from the Old Trafford faithful as he came on to make his first appearance since last season. — AFP