Manchester United crushed Newcastle United’s hopes of a claiming a first domestic trophy for nearly 70 years with a clinical 2-0 victory in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
Goals late in the first half by Casemiro and an own goal from Sven Botman silenced the hordes of Newcastle fans who flocked to the capital as Manchester United went on to lift the trophy for a sixth time.
While much of the build-up was about Newcastle’s first appearance in a major final since 1999, it was Erik ten Hag’s resurgent Manchester United who claimed the club’s first silverware since winning the Europa League under Jose Mourinho in 2017.
There was little between the sides in a scrappy first half but the English season’s first silverware was effectively decided in the space of six minutes towards halftime.
Firstly Brazilian Casemiro met a superb Luke Shaw free kick in the 33rd minute to head past Loris Karius and six minutes later Newcastle were left deflated when Marcus Rashford’s effort was deflected into his own goal by Botman.
Kicking towards their fans in the second half Newcastle roused themselves into action and pinned a leggy-looking Manchester United back at times but their wait for a trophy goes on.
Casemiro outstanding as Manchester United are transformed
Manchester United’s renaissance under Ten Hag now has tangible reward in the shape of a trophy, with the power to add more this season.
The Dutchman’s strong leadership and tactical acumen has transformed them since that nightmare opening to the season when they lost at home to Brighton and shipped four first-half goals in a humiliating loss at Brentford.
The arrival of the outstanding Casemiro, the superb development of the combative Lisandro Martinez and Rashford’s rejuvenation have helped to make the Old Trafford outfit a serious proposition again.
They were not at their best, but once they took control of this final they did not let Newcastle back in – and this was very much a case of mission accomplished.
At the heart of it all was Casemiro, a genuinely transformative acquisition. The Brazilian not only made the crucial contribution with the opening goal, but stamped his years of trophy-winning experience with Real Madrid all over this showpiece with his expert positioning and authority.
It will also increase the growing belief that Ten Hag is the manager who will move Manchester United forward and out of the wilderness that had engulfed them before his arrival at the start of the season.
No blame on Karius – but Newcastle lack end product
Newcastle’s vast Toon Army warmly applauded them at the final whistle, but this will be a bitter disappointment after they travelled south in their hordes with hopes and expectations so high.
There was certainly no lack of effort, but there is a desperate absence of end product to a side whose momentum in the Premier League has slowed – and that agonising wait to celebrate a trophy continues.
It showed here as Newcastle got into threatening positions several times in the second half, but never took advantage in a manner that might have exerted a measure of pressure on Manchester United.
All eyes were on German keeper Karius, drafted in for Pope – suspended after being sent off against Liverpool – and still best remembered for a calamitous performance for Jurgen Klopp’s team in their 2018 Champions League final loss to Real Madrid.
Newcastle would have preferred the greater certainty of Pope, but no blame can be attached to Karius here – and he actually made good saves from Wout Weghorst, Rashford and, just before the end, Bruno Fernandes.
There is no doubt, though, that despite this loss, Newcastle are heading in the right direction under Howe.
They would have gladly taken a major final at the start of the season, but Wembley once again brought only heartache for the Geordies.