Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho believes his side are within touching distance of Wembley despite admitting his irritation at over-zealous celebrations after their opening goal against Hull in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg.
United took a significant step towards the first major final of the Mourinho era courtesy of second-half strikes from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini.
“This doesn’t hand us the semi-final, we’re not at Wembley, but the second goal may be the important goal,” said Mourinho. “[After Mata’s goal] We needed to play. In cup ties every goal can be crucial. Why celebrate when you have half an hour to play? I don’t think so. I don’t think there is a reason for celebration with the first goal.”
Only Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson have won more League Cups than Mourinho’s three and it was United who were the most prominent during a goalless first half.
Former Chelsea playmaker Mata came closest to breaking the deadlock and drew a superb one-handed save from Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic in the opening moments.
Rooney lashed wide as his wait to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 United goals continued, although moments later the hosts took a 56th minute lead when Mata forced home Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s header from close range.
Paul Pogba struck the post with a free-kick, while Fellaini’s looping header from Matteo Darmian’s cross gave United breathing space before the second leg on 26 January.
United, meanwhile, have agreed to sell 27-year-old midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin to fellow Premier League side Everton for £22m.