Swansea 0-2 Man United Five Things: controlled display

Lingard celebrates – mirror.co.uk

Jesse Lingard’s brace saw reigning League Cup winners Manchester United move into the last eight of the competition with a 2-0 win over Swansea. Here’s five things from the match.

A night of discipline

We saw a match between two disciplined sides who rarely applied direct pressure on the ball, meaning that possession did not often change hands. Swansea had a midfield trio of Ki Sung-Yeung, who shifted the ball nicely, Roque Mesa, who played the odd good pass and Sam Clucas, who showed some clever movement into wide areas. However, neither of them are particularly physical, which meant they found it hard to impose themselves without the ball and therefore had to get through a lot of work with it. Manchester United were well-structured thanks to the tactical awareness of their front three, Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, as well as the defensive focus of wing-backs Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind.

Swans openings

Despite those issues, Swansea still had openings in the first half. Victor Lindelof was guilty of allowing Jordan Ayew to get goalside in the final third on more than one occasion, the lively Ghanian’s dangerous 16th minute run requiring some good covering work from Chris Smalling. The ex-Maidstone defender dominated Oliver McBurnie, though Axel Tuanzebe might have given away a penalty for an alleged foul on Wayne Routledge. Thankfully for the Red Devils, Swansea were unable to truly examine their back-line due to a lack of intent. The visitors didn’t show oodles of intent themselves but their quality shone when it mattered on 21 minutes. After Mike Van Der Hoorn pressed prematurely and Mesa failed to track Lingard’s run, Martial flicked the ball onto the 24-year-old, who finished with composure one-on-one with Kristoffer Nordfeldt.

United’s control

Manchester United retained possession well in the second half, picking their moment to pounce on 59 minutes. Tuanzebe came under no pressure when he carried the ball into the opposing half and, after his pass found the right flank via a deflection, Darmian produced a looping cross from deep and Lingard nodded home from the edge of the box. Tammy Abraham provided the biggest test of Sergio Romero all night within two minutes of entering the fray, but the Argentine’s save ensured a comfortable finale.

Ideal prep for the Red Devils

While Manchester United fans will be pleased to still be in the hunt for another trophy, the club’s week will be defined largely by what happens on Saturday against Tottenham Hotspur. The nature of tonight’s game meant they could conserve energy in the closing stages and plan ahead, with Martial, Rashford and Ander Herrera all withdrawn. The latter, like replacement Nemanja Matic, was a controlling influence, allowing partner Scott McTominay to grow in confidence, with academy graduates impressing for Mourinho’s men.

Swansea must improve

Paul Clement’s side will not be the only ones to lose to United this season – they made eight changes and they did have the odd bright moment. However, to improve their atrocious goalscoring record of six in nine in the league, one of two things must change. They have to either play at a higher intensity to sustain those periods of prominence, or be more clinical when they come about. Abraham right now looks like their only player capable of testing the goalkeeper and it will be difficult to stay up relying on his goals, alone.