Casemiro nets late winner as Manchester United keep alive hopes of trophy



Posted Thursday, February 29, 2024 by PA

Casemiro nets late winner as Manchester United keep alive hopes of trophy

Casemiro’s late winner kept Manchester United in with a chance of ending a disappointing season with silverware as Erik ten Hag’s men edged past Nottingham Forest to set up an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Liverpool.

Ten Hag won the Carabao Cup during a promising first campaign but has come under increasing pressure during a troubled second season that threatened to unravel if they lost at the City Ground.

But last year’s FA Cup finalists dug deep and Casemiro turned home Bruno Fernandes’ free-kick at the death to secure a 1-0 win against Forest and set-up a mouth-watering quarter-final at Old Trafford.

The 89th-minute winner, which took several minutes to clear by the VAR, keeps United’s season alive having been dumped out of Europe in December and long since played themselves out of the Premier League title race.

Victory provides a welcome shot in the arm for injury-hit United, who not only bounced back from the home loss to Fulham but avoided extra-time exertions before this weekend’s derby clash with Manchester City.

Ten Hag’s troops had the best chances in the first half, albeit Forest had 14 opportunities after Antony – one of three alterations from Saturday’s crushing defeat – hit the crossbar just four minutes in with a first-time shot from Fernandes’ low cross.

Diogo Dalot’s fine cross was met by a close-range header from Scott McTominay but it was straight at Matt Turner.

The visitors wanted to unsettle the out-of-sorts Forest back-up, whose goal Marcus Rashford drove over as Ten Hag’s men looked for a morale-boosting opener.

But Forest had now settled after a cumbersome start, with former Liverpool striker Divock Origi and target man Taiwo Awoniyi posing problems.

Casemiro nets late winner as Manchester United keep alive hopes of trophy
Erik ten Hag’s side kept alive hopes of silverware (Mike Egerton/PA)

Makeshift left-back Sofyan Amrabat was struggling and United’s midfield continued to leave gaps that Forest failed to punish as opportunities did not translate into clear-cut chances.

In fact, Nuno Espirito Santo’s hosts would have gone into the break behind was it not for a smart save from Turner at his near post after Dalot spun brilliantly away from danger to get in a cross for McTominay.

Both teams returned from the break unchanged and Forest began the brighter.

United academy graduate Elanga battled and played in Awoniyi to force a save out of Onana, who was soon punching away a rasping Origi effort.

Ten Hag’s side eventually regained composure and began to impose themselves, with Rashford seeing penalty appeals rejected after being sandwiched by two Forest defenders.

Casemiro nets late winner as Manchester United keep alive hopes of trophy
United’s winner survived a lengthy VAR check (Mike Egerton/PA)

Fernandes bent wide with the outside of his right boot and saw a low effort turned just wide by McTominay as United dominated possession and the second half shot count.

Amad Diallo replaced the ineffective Antony and could not make clean connection on a blocked Alejandro Garnacho effort, with Rashford lasering off target as they continued to knock on the door.

Forest offered little response and Casemiro tried his luck as the clock wound down, with United sticking to their task and getting their reward from an 89th-minute set piece.

Fernandes swung a free-kick from the left flank to the near post, where Casemiro’s slight headed touch took it past Turner, sparking wild celebrations.

Forest looked fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men in stoppage time after Felipe grabbed Fernandes’ throat.

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