Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford all got on the scoresheet as the Red Devils put an end to their recent struggles with victory in the EFL Cup
Manchester United ended a three-game losing run with a 3-1 triumph over Northampton Town in a third-round EFL Cup tie played out in front of a record crowd of 7,798 at Sixfields.
Having warmed up in a hotel car park before the tie, Jose Mourinho’s side needed second-half goals from Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford to book their place in the last 16.
Michael Carrick’s first-time finish from the edge of the area in the 17th minute had put United ahead, but some shoddy defending allowed Northampton to equalise at the end of the first half.
An unwillingness to deal with the danger led to Daley Blind felling Sam Hoskins inside the area, with Alex Revell converting the resulting penalty to raise hopes of a cup shock.
However, Herrera put the four-time winners of the competition back in front with a low drive before substitute Rashford capitalised on an air shot from goalkeeper Adam Smith to tap home a third.
Mourinho unsurprisingly opted to rotate his squad for the trip to the League One side, although Wayne Rooney remained in the starting XI.
Playing as the main forward in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was named on a strong visiting bench, the England captain saw a potential goal rightly chalked off for offside.
He did at least have a hand in breaking the deadlock as his free-kick from inside the area hit the wall and broke perfectly for Carrick to pass the ball beyond Smith’s desperate dive.
Yet for all their dominance, United looked decidedly shaky at the back.
Kenji Gorre turned easily away from two defenders to clip the crossbar with a left-footed effort just before Blind’s obvious trip felled Hoskins inside the area.
Revell punished the Dutchman’s mistake, sending goalkeeper Sergio Romero the wrong way to bring Northampton level just before the interval.
Mourinho did not wait long to summon Rashford and Ibrahimovic from the bench in the second half – and both players were involved in the build-up to the crucial third goal of the contest.
Rashford rolled the pass back to the supporting Herrera and, having hit the post just before with a left-footed drive, the Spaniard found the back of the net with a rocket off his right boot.
Any possibility of a second Northampton comeback were dismissed with 15 minutes to play as Rashford was rewarded for chasing a hopeful punt with a simple finish into an empty net to make it five in six for club and country.
Herrera gave Northampton a warning with a left-foot shot that struck the post and in the 68th minute he restored United’s lead, slamming home right-footed from Rashford’s lay-off.
Another Smith error allowed United to seal victory, the goalkeeper hesitating as a long ball bounced towards him, which allowed Rashford to steal in and lash the ball into the vacant goal.
Manchester City made it nine wins from nine games under Pep Guardiola with victory at Swansea.
The visitors, wearing a lurid orange and purple change kit, gave a first start of the season to skipper Vincent Kompany, who has been working his way back to fitness after a thigh injury.
City enjoyed the best of the first half, but it took until four minutes into the second half for Gael Clichy to put them ahead with a deflected shot.
Aleix Garcia made the most of a rare start by netting the second from Jesus Navas’s cut-back in the 67th minute before Gylfi Sigurdsson stabbed in a stoppage-time consolation for Swansea.
West Ham United, struggling for form in the Premier League, needed a 96th-minute Dimitri Payet free-kick to edge fourth-tier Accrington Stanley 1-0 at London Stadium.
Charlie Austin and James Hesketh scored as Southampton beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in an all-Premier League tie at St Mary’s.
Paddy McNair scored twice as Sunderland came from behind to win 2-1 at second-tier Queens Park Rangers.
In the two late games, Tottenham Hotspur host third-tier Gillingham and Hull City travel to Stoke City.
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