Mourinho demands more intensity after EFL Cup win over Hull
Man United in control of semi-final, but will have to up their game for the visit of Liverpool on Sunday
Manchester United 2 Hull City 0
Manchester United have one foot in the EFL Cup final after goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini put them in firm control of their semi-final against Hull City, ahead of the second leg on 26 January.
It was hardly a vintage performance from a strong United side, and they laboured to make much headway in the first-half against a doughty Hull side. The home side managed just two shots on target in the opening period but Mata's effort, and that of Paul Pogba, were both dealt with by Eldin Jakupovic in the visitors' goal.
But Mata broke the deadlock just before the hour mark when he latched onto Henrikh Mkhitaryan's knockdown to put United one up, and substitute Fellaini doubled their advantage three minutes from time to leave Hull with a sizeable challenge when the teams meet for the second leg at the end of the month
Hull, who last won at Old Trafford in 1951, are in the midst of an injury crisis and the bottom-placed club in the Premier League never looked like causing an upset.
What was more likely, or so hoped the United faithful, was that Wayne Rooney would score the goal that would move move him onto 250 for the club, one ahead of Bobby Charlton with whom he shares the goal-scoring record. It wasn't to be, however, and the England striker was substituted shortly before Mata opened the scoring.
Despite the result, United manager Jose Mourinho was not a happy man when he spoke to the media. "Maybe I didn't prepare the team right," he reflected. "I didn't give them enough intensity, and we had to change that at half-time. Maybe I should pay more attention to the dynamic of the game."
But it wasn't just himself that Mourinho chided. "The players have to do better, I have to do better, the fans - they also have to do better," he explained, evidently not impressed with the subdued atmosphere at Old Trafford.
Fans and players alike are likely to be rather more fired up on Sunday when United host Liverpool in the Premier League, a crucial clash given that the Red Devils trail their fierce rivals by five points.
It's a must-win game for United, as Mourinho acknowledged. "Now this game is over, I think about Sunday," he said. "We have to improve for Sunday. Today our performance was enough to win, but Sunday we all have to improve... everyone loves big matches so let’s go for that one."