Get ready for Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola, part II. Manchester United ended a run of three straight losses by capitalizing on two goal keeper mistakes to beat third-tier Northampton 3-1 in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday.
The reward wasn’t kind for United: A match against Manchester City in the last 16 next month and a renewal of the Mourinho-Guardiola rivalry that has been transferred from Spain to the north of England this season.
While Guardiola’s City was winning its ninth successive game of the season by beating Swansea 2-1 away, United laboured again and needed a helping hand from Northampton’s error-prone goal keeper and its strong bench to end the first blip of Mourinho’s tenure.
Northampton goal keeper Adam Smith was penalized for picking up a back pass and United scored from the resulting free kick, Michael Carrick lashing home a shot after Wayne Rooney’s attempt was blocked.
United was pegged back by a penalty and then took the lead against through Ander Herrera in the 68th minute before Smith dallied over a clearance and was dispossessed by substitute Marcus Rashford, who scored into an empty net.
“I think the team was in control from the beginning,” Mourinho said. “The game could and should have been easier.”
Rooney was one of the few regulars to start for United and was handed a rare chance to lead the attack in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Rooney missed a good early chance and finished the game on the right wing after Ibrahimovic and Rashford were thrown on by Mourinho, with United drawing 1-1 at that stage.
A victory over lower-league opposition will serve as only brief respite for Mourinho, who will be back under scrutiny if United loses to Leicester on Saturday after successive losses to Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford in the space of nine days.
Gael Clichy and Aleix Garcia were the second-half scorers for a much-changed Man City side, which kept up its 100 per cent start under Guardiola. Amid City’s nine-game winning run was an eye-catching 2-1 win at United.
Vincent Kompany started for City for his first game of the season after injury.Report Typo/Error