Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s late winner secured the EFL Cup and gave Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho his first success since his summer appointment, as brave Southampton were beaten at Wembley.
Southampton were the better side for most of this final but were left heartbroken by a controversial offside decision – and the inspiration provided by the 35-year-old Swede as he took his tally to 26 goals this season.
Saints’ striker Manolo Gabbiadiani saw a goal contentiously ruled out before United took an undeserved two-goal lead through Ibrahimovic’s superb 19th minute free-kick and Jesse Lingard’s measured finish seven minutes before the interval.
Southampton, as their performance merited, were on terms with two predatory strikes from Gabbiadini either side of half-time.
Oriel Romeu hit the woodwork before Ibrahimovic stole in on Ander Herrera’s cross three minutes from time to give United a victory that looked beyond them for long spells.
This is what I came for’ – reaction
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “This is a team effort. This is what I came for – to win, and I am winning. The more I win the more satisfied I get.
“You appreciate it more the older you get. Wherever I have gone I have won. I think this is trophy number 32 for me. This is what I predicted. My friend, I keep doing it. I’m enjoying it in England.”
Manager Jose Mourinho: “Honestly, Ibrahimovic won the game for us because he was outstanding. I can see a couple of performances – Pogba similar level – but he was outstanding.
“In a match where the opponent was better than us for long periods – they deserved to go to extra time – he made the difference and he gave us the cup.
“I’m a bit emotional yes. It’s not easy to win titles and so many times. It’s not easy to cope with the pressure I put myself under.
“It was a game I was feeling the difficulty. I want to pay homage to Southampton and what they deserve. We have the cup in our hands and probably should be in extra time.”
Other Matches played Across Europe Yesterday
Marseille 1-5 PSG
There was only one minute of stoppage time despite all the action. It’s all over. PSG are within three points of leaders Monaco
Inter Milan 1-3 Roma
A great game comes to an end in Serie A. Roma are within seven points of Juventus again.
Villarreal 2-3 Real Madrid
From 2-0 down, Real win 3-2. Real return to the top of the La Liga tree.
Barcelona 2-1 Atletico
Lionel Messi scored a late winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid to go briefly top of La Liga.