West Ham boss Slaven Bilic was left dumbfounded by his side’s inability to learn from their mistakes as Manchester United breezed into the EFL Cup semi-finals after a convincing victory.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Anthony Martial netted twice, both scoring in the opening moments of either half, to negate the fright provided by former Old Trafford starlet Ashley Fletcher. United will face Hull City in the last four.
“We can’t have a slow start against them because they are very good when they are one-nil up,” said Bilic.
“After the slow start, we recovered and looked good but you can’t do the same [at the start of the second half]. And we did. They totally deserved it then after that. You can’t have that kind of start in a game like this.”
United boss Jose Mourinho, who last night served a touchline ban after admitting a Football Association charge of improper conduct, hinted that he may be ready to thrust Henrikh Mkhitaryan into frontline Premier League.
“I am so happy because we played against a team with Premier League qualities and characteristics which showed his evolution,” said Mourinho. “Today was against a proper and typical Premier League team. We know the reason why we bought up. We have been waiting for his adaptation and it looks like it’s coming.”
United were ahead inside two minutes as Ibrahimovic provided an expert finish, dinking the ball over the advancing Adrian after an intricate backheel from Mkhitaryan, whose run had been picked out by skipper Wayne Rooney.
Playmaker Dimitri Payet was the architect of West Ham’s leveller 10 minutes before the interval as his shot was spilled by David de Gea, allowing former Untied academy striker Fletcher to poke home.
The second half started in a similar vein to the first and United restored their lead within minutes of the restart. Mkhitaryan was again the provider as his lay-off was converted by Martial.
Frenchman Martial all but sealed United’s progression to the last four shortly after the hour mark as he fired past Adrian following Antonio Valencia’s low cross, while Ibrahimovic tapped home a fourth deep into stoppage time.