Marcus Rashford’s sensational free-kick winner was like something Cristiano Ronaldo would produce, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after his side beat Chelsea to reach the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
The England striker gave United the lead with a penalty after Marcos Alonso fouled Daniel James.
Michy Batshuayi equalised for Chelsea, who had won their last seven games, with a great run from the halfway line and finish from outside the box.
But Rashford won the game with a swerving, dipping 30-yard free-kick into the top scorer.
“It was very Cristiano-like,” said Solskjaer. “The boy has nerves of steel, He takes a penalty no problem, and then steps up and hits the ball like he did and wins us the game. Fantastic.
“He works too much on it. I’ve always tried to get him scoring simple tap-ins and being inside the box. He always scores great goals.”
The quarter-final draw will take place on Thursday at about 08:45 GMT on BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.
United’s decision to name strong team pays off
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named a strong side, saying he wanted to “keep the momentum going” – with 19-year-old Brandon Williams the only unfamiliar youngster to start.
And it worked as they won for a third game in a row, all away from home – after a run of six games without a win.
Scott McTominay had already gone close to an opener when Rashford – who missed a penalty in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Norwich in the Premier League – sent Willy Caballero the wrong way from the spot.
Chelsea made six changes from Saturday’s win at Burnley and did not look their usual selves. Christian Pulisic, who scored a hat-trick at Turf Moor, failed to have much of an impact, although he did drag a shot wide in the second half.
Batshuayi’s equaliser was wonderful as he flicked Caballero’s long kick on with his head, before beating Harry Maguire for pace and smashing home from 25 yards.
But the headlines belong to Rashford, who turns 22 on Thursday, who settled the game with a fantastic free-kick – his fourth goal against Chelsea this season.
‘I thought we were the better team’
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There weren’t many chances in the first half. In the second half we showed the energy I wanted. We created chances and dominated the game.
“They got a bolt out of the blue to win the game. It’s an amazing goal, you can’t do anything about that. We felt like we were going on to win the game at that stage.
“[The winning run ending was] always going to happen. You can’t go on forever. Even [Manchester] City and Liverpool lose at some point. We changed the team a lot today, made a lot of changes. I thought we were the better team in general play.”
Chelsea’s worse home record than last season – match stats
- Chelsea have lost three games at Stamford Bridge in 2019-20, one more than they did in the whole of the 2018-19 campaign.
- Manchester United have recorded back-to-back away wins at Chelsea for the first time since February 1998.
- United have won seven of their last eight League Cup matches against Premier League opposition.
- Marcus Rashford has scored five goals against Chelsea, his most against a single opponent. Four of those have come this season
- Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge on 22 December, Manchester United have taken more (17) and scored more (12) penalties than any other Premier League team in all competitions.
- Michy Batshuayi equalled his longest scoring streak for Chelsea, having netted in three consecutive games for the third time for the Blues (previously doing so in May and September 2017).
- Chelsea (24 years 166 days) named their youngest starting XI in a League Cup fixture since October 2012, which was also against Manchester United (24y 7d).