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Seven things we learned as Manchester United lose to City in semi-final (Details below)

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Manchester United are out of the Carabao Cup semi-final. City scored two second half goals to win at Old Trafford, with United looking disjointed all over the pitch.

Here is a look at seven things we learned from the game…

United came out to attack

United struggled to have a shot on target in the league meeting between the two teams a month ago. This time around United did not sit back.

The ball was in the back of the net after just two minutes but the own goal was ruled out as Marcus Rashford was offside.

Minutes later Bruno Fernandes tested stand-in goalkeeper Zack Steffen with a curling effort which was tipped wide. United took the game to City and made the intent clear. It was a positive approach which would have engaged a watching crowd if supporters had been in attendance.

This approach left gaps at the back too. City scored two first half goals themselves which were both ruled out for offside.

Unfortunately United didn’t build on this early promise, and Steffen had an early evening. Credit to City’s defence too.

Poor defending lets United down

United had warning in the first half. So it was a deflating moment to see City take the lead five minutes after the break.

Frustratingly, City’s goal came from a set piece. United didn’t look organised and John Stones turned the ball in from close range for an easy goal.

Neither Victor Lindelof or Harry Maguire took charge of the situation.

Eric Bailly, on the bench, might have fared better. It was the type of cross the Ivorian would have flung himself at to stop getting into the danger area. Nobody else was on hand to take such decisive action.

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Henderson can say he got his chance

Solskjaer did not make the move he did in three semi-final ties last season, taking out his cup goalkeeper and replacing him with David de Gea.

This might keep Dean Henderson engaged long term. Solskjaer has shown he is invested enough in the youngster to believe him good enough to start a cup semi-final.

Henderson was left without a chance by his defence for City’s opener. He kept United in the game at 1-0 with a terrific full stretch diving save to tip a long range effort over the bar.

This was Henderson’s first competitive game at Old Trafford, so he can check that off his list.

United’s midfield second best

For one reason or another, United’s midfield came off second best particularly in the second half.

Neither Scott McTominay or Fred managed to control the game while Bruno Fernandes was wasteful in the final third.

Scott McTominay managed just 28 touches inside the first 65 minutes which summed up his and the team’s problem. United would have been better off with Nemanja Matic in midfield to give the team more shape.

Paul Pogba looked dangerous when he came inside but often he seemed to be positioned too wide on the left to really get a grip on possession.

Cavani was missed

Edinson Cavani’s suspension was a headache United would have rather done without for this fixture, and he was missed.

Neither Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford had good games and the Frenchman in particular was ineffective.

There were times in the first half when United got possession out wide and there was nobody in the box to cross to. This wouldn’t have been the case with Cavani.

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The Uruguayan is a big game player and his movement is excellent. This is the type of game he would have relished.


Hesitant substitutions

This was the biggest game at Old Trafford since the Champions League defeat to PSG and it had a familiar feel.

With five substitutes available, United were reluctant to change the team up.

Even with the team trailing, it took until the 75th minute for United to make a change, with Mason Greenwood brought on.

If you were looking for a sign Solskjaer has learned from his mistakes against PSG, this game did not really provide it.

As for poor Donny van de Beek, his wait for meaningful minutes goes on, brought on in the 87th minute with the game already lost.


Another semi-final exit

Well, if not for the impressive Premier League form, this would be totally deflating. It is still a low moment and brings us back down to earth.

United have now lost four semi-finals in the space of 12 months under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

What happens next can go one of two ways. United will eventually get over the hump, or the opportunities will begin to dry up.

This was a chance for United to demonstrate some improvement, and once again the team fell short when it really mattered.

United will shrug it off and move on, there is no time to dwell on losses, but fans and the media will continue to ask questions, whether this team has what it takes to be winners.

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