Manchester United won its first trophy since 2017 with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United to win the Carabao Cup at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
Casemiro broke the deadlock minutes after the half-hour mark, heading home from a Luke Shaw freekick.
Five minutes later, the lead was doubled after Marcus Rashford looked to have continued his electric form when his deflected strike just evaded Lorius Karius to fly into the Newcastle goal despite the German’s despairing fingertips – it was later ruled to be a Sven Botman own goal.
The trophy cements an excellent turnaround under Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag who has transformed the club from perennial underachievers to trophy winners in just over 10 months.
“It’s an amazing feeling, we’ve been searching for this moment, us, the fans, the club, finally we get our trophy, we deserve it,” Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes told Sky Sports just moments after the final whistle.
“It’s been an amazing period. The first trophy of the season but we want more. It’s not enough for this club, we want more and we need more because our standards deserve more.”
It was a final longtime coming for both teams for different reasons.
For Manchester United, the club hasn’t won a trophy since 2017; a cataclysmic expanse for the club the size of it.
In the black and white of Newcastle, it is an even longer wait, having not won any major silverware for 54 years.
It is also the first final for the club since its controversial takeover by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) in 2021.
The PIF – which has an 80% stake in the club, as part of a three-party consortium – is a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the man who a US intelligence report named responsible for approving the operation that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
With thousands of fans having made the journey down to London from Newcastle for the final, Wembley’s atmosphere had a proper cup final feel to it.
And to the delight of Manchester United fans, their local hero and the team’s man in form, Rashford, was declared fit to start despite a recent injury scare. Newcastle was without its own star player goalkeeper Nick Pope who had been shown a red card in his previous game meaning he was suspended.
In the opening few minutes, and in a crackling atmosphere, there was very little between the two teams, with Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin going closest after some trademark quick footwork.
When it looked as if Newcastle might be building up a head of steam, it was sucker punched when a free kick from out wide was headed past Karius by Casemiro.
The Brazilian midfielder was signed by manager Ten Hag in a £60 million ($73m) deal from Real Madrid in the summer and his impact as the heart of the team has been indicative of Manchester United’s rise since Ten Hag’s arrival at the club.
Things went from bad to worse for Newcastle minutes later when some neat link up play between Rashford and Wout Weghorst saw the England star played into the opposition’s box. Although he was able to get away a left-footed shot under pressure from Botman, Rashford’s shot looked to have been heading wide meaning the goal was credited to the Netherlands defender.
After the halftime break, Newcastle ramped up its pressure on David de Gea’s goal, with Saint-Maximin and the newly-introduced Alexander Isak doing their best to fashion goalscoring opportunities.
The final two minutes were filled with set pieces, substitutions and breakaway chances – with Manchester United actually looking the most likely to score.
In the dying seconds, with the result seemingly wrapped up, Portugal international Fernandes had a glorious opportunity to cap off a memorable afternoon, only for Karius to produce a smart stop.