Ibrahimovic brace fires United to EFL Cup glory

EFL Cup Final

Manchester United 3-2 Southampton

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice, including a late winner, as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in the EFL Cup final.

The Swede headed home the winner from six yards out in the 87th minute after earlier scoring the opener in a hugely entertaining affair at Wembley as United sealed their first major trophy under Jose Mourinho.

After Southampton wrongly had an early goal disallowed through Manolo Gabbiadini, Ibrahimovic gave United the lead with a drilled free-kick from 25 yards on 19 minutes, before Jesse Lingard swept home seven minutes before half-time in space 18 yards out for 2-0.

The Saints halved the deficit on the brink of half-time through Gabbiadini’s close-range finish, and were level just three minutes after the restart through the Italian’s superb effort into the bottom right corner on the turn from 15 yards.

But despite some clear chances for Claude Puel’s side to earn their first big piece of silverware since 1976, Ibrahimovic popped up with three minutes to go to once again take the headlines.

Mourinho, who had won 10 of his last 12 cup finals before the game, started Ibrahimovic at Wembley, while fit-again Wayne Rooney was on the bench.

Paul Pogba had the first attempt in anger as Fraser Forster beat away the Frenchman’s effort from 20 yards, before Southampton had the ball in the net on 11 minutes.

Finishing off Cedric Soares low cross from the right, Gabbiadini was adjudged to be offside in the six-yard box, though replays showed he was just inches on, much to the anger of the Saints players and fans.

Their misery was compounded moments later as Ibrahimovic struck a superb free-kick home from 25 yards following Oriol Romeu’s needless challenge on Ander Herrera, though Forster could have done better with the effort.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his second goal.

Southampton did not seem overly affected by the opener and arguably had the better of the play in the first half, seeing long-range shots from James Ward-Prowse and Dusan Tadic saved well by David de Gea before the break.But Mourinho’s side found themselves 2-0 up on 38 minutes through last season’s FA Cup final match-winner Lingard, who stroked the ball low into the right corner past Forster from 18 yards after United had opened Saints up with some neat passing on the left.

All eyes were on referee Andre Marriner moments later after Jack Stevens went studs-up on Antonio Valencia, but the referee showed a yellow card despite protestations from the United players.

The Saints got the goal they deserved in first-half stoppage time through Gabbiadini, poking through De Gea’s legs from close-range after Ward-Prowse’s cross from the right.

And just three minutes after half-time Gabbiadini was at it again with his fifth goal in three games for the Saints, this time producing a stunning snap-shot on the turn after the ball dropped to him in the area, leaving De Gea rooted.

The post then denied Southampton a third as Romeu went close with a header from a Ward-Prowse corner, and at the other end Lingard volleyed a clear chance over the bar having taken the ball down at the far post in acres of space.

Southampton refused to retreat, and went close as Ryan Bertrand’s dangerous cross evaded both Shane Long and Ward-Prowse, but it was Ibrahimovic who arrived late on for the match winner.

Getting on the end of Herrera’s deft cross, the 35-year-old netted his 26th of a magnificent debut season in England, heading high unmarked past Forster from close range.

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