Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho revelled in the burden of winning his first Old Trafford trophy being lifted after his side sealed a late victory over plucky Southampton in the EFL Cup final.
Talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted the winner after Manolo Gabbiadini’s double had dragged Southampton level following strikes from the Swedish hitman and Jesse Lingard.
Victory ensured Mourinho became the first ever United manager to win major silverware in his first season in charge, while the Portuguese also joined Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough in winning four League Cups.
“I’m very happy. I’m happy for the players, the fans,” said Mourinho.
“I try to put myself secondary, but the truth is it was important for me. I put pressure on myself. I try to win a major trophy at every club, so to win with Manchester United is a relief. The reality is we want more.
“I don’t want to look at it as a platform. It’s something that happened. It’s one more game we now want to delete from our minds. It’s over, it’s finished, it’s a sense of relief.”
Southampton had the ball in the net after 11 minutes only for Gabbiadini to be flagged offside when he appeared to be level with United’s Chris Smalling as he forced the ball home. Saints boss Claude Puel has called for video technology for offside decisions.
“I would like, of course, the video [technology] for the future,” said Puel. “We scored first but the decision was not for us. Manolo Gabbiadini scored three good goals.”
Any sense of injustice was heightened before the halfway mark in the opening period as Ibrahimovic’s 25-yard free-kick sailed over the Southampton wall and beyond the dive of Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
United doubled their lead seven minutes before the break as Lingard, who has now scored in his last three club appearances at Wembley, calmly passed the ball beyond Forster having collected a Marcos Rojo pass.
Southampton were the victims of a comeback on their last appearance at Wembley in a showpiece final in 1979 but instigated one of their own when Gabbiadini applied a near-post finish to a James Ward-Prowse cross on the stroke of half time.
Within five minutes of the restart, Southampton were level and again it was former Napoli forward Gabbiadini. The 25-year-old’s first time shot, on the spin having deceived Smalling, left United stopper David de Gea rooted to the spot.
Former Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu glanced against the post before Ibrahimovic provided the decisive moment, towering high to power a header from Ander Herrera’s cross past Forster.