LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 26: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United scores their third goal past goalkeeper Fraser Forster of Southampton during the EFL Cup Final between Manchester United and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabs late winner to give Manchester United League Cup title

Manchester United won their fifth league cup this afternoon thanks to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace. The United striker scored an early free kick and a late winner to give the Red Devils a victory over a talented Southampton side that gave them all they could handle. The Saints played well throughout, but in the end, much of United’s individual class was enough to earn their first trophy of the season.

The first half began well for Southampton. The Saints pressured United’s back-line on a regular basis. New signing Manolo Gabbiadini troubled Marcus Rojo constantly down the right flank. The Italian drifted wide when he had to but made his mark early down the middle when he found the back of the net. Southampton’s goal was quickly called back, however when Gabbiadini was erroneously ruled offside.

Southampton had to have felt hard done by the incorrect decision but there was little time to dwell on it. The Saints kept pressing United, but it was United that had the first big break. Zlatan Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with a wonderful free-kick. The goal was a stroke of good fortune for United, who were frequently on the back foot in the first half.

After opening the scoring, The Red Devils had trouble dealing with Southampton’s constant pressure. David De Gea was forced to make a few saves that kept United in the lead. Despite this United managed to double their lead. Jesse Lingard was the beneficiary of a good bit of interplay between him, Mata, Rojo and Martial. The England interntional calmly finished to give United a 2-0 lead. Even though United had been outplayed for much of the first half, they were firmly in the driver’s seat.

Southampton needed to find a response and it came from their Italian striker who was denied earlier in the day. Gabbiadini pulled the Saints to within one goal just before halftime. Once again it was the wide play that caused United so much trouble. Gabbiandini took a cross and placed the ball between De Gea’s legs. The goal gave Southampton some life heading into the second half.

Southampton began the second half much the same way as they carried on for most of the first. They always looked likely to score, and once again their Winter signing came up big. Not five minutes into the second half and Southampton found their equalizer. Gabbiadini positioned himself in front of Chris Smalling and was able to volley the ball past a helpless De Gea following a cross from Steven Davis.

The comeback made for a tense, but cautious second half. Neither side was interested in giving away too much, and risk giving away a late winner. The match looked set for extra time, were it not for United’s superb Swede. Ibrahimovic grabbed a late winner a few minutes before the end of full time. The dominant striker was, incredibly, left unmarked at the penalty spot. Ander Herrera spotted the inviting target and lofted a cross into the middle. Predictably, Ibrahimovic didn’t miss a free header from a few yards out.

United saw the game out from there to go on and win their first league cup since 2010. For Jose Mourinho, he becomes the first manager to win the EFL Cup with two different clubs. United will like to use this momentum to go on and hopefully hop back into the top four. The Manchester club is still in the FA Cup and the Europa League. Given their form this season, more silverware could be on the way. For Southampton, they will rue their disallowed goal for some time, but with their only chance to win a trophy this season now by the wayside, they will have to focus on getting the best league position they can.

About Harrison Prolic

Northern Illinois graduate with a degree in Journalism. Full-time page designer in Madison, Wisconsin. Part time follower of all things German soccer. I tweet about the Bundesliga and plenty of other sports @hprolic.