MANCHESTER, England — For at least 90 minutes, there was a sense of calm at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Manchester United eliminated Crystal Palace in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup thanks to a comfortable 3-0 win and Erik ten Hag’s side won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Midfielder-fullback Sofian Amrabat impressed on his Man United debut, and academy graduate Dan Gore earned his senior debut on his 19th birthday.
The Ten Hague were also able to give minutes to Harry Maguire and Anthony Martial, who scored the third goal, while Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford were off for the night. After a chaotic start to the campaign that went from crisis to crisis, it was almost calm.
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“It was a good night, of course,” Ten Haag said afterwards. “We dominated the game, we had some good attacks, we controlled possession, dominated chances and scored great goals.”
The Carabao Cup has already given ten Haag his best day as Man United manager when he won it last season and he will be hoping that the start of the defense of the trophy can turn the fortunes around for a struggling United side this season.
Palace return to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, the first of five United home games before the end of October. With five of United’s next six games in all competitions at Old Trafford, now is the time for Ten Haag and his players to steady the ship if they are going to do it.
What Ten Hague would give for a quiet month and let someone else be the Premier League’s crisis club. It was around this time last season that United started to put together a run that saw them in the hunt for the top four and very briefly in the title race.
Sitting ninth in the table after six games, he will likely settle for a move closer to the coattails of Manchester City, Liverpool, Brighton and Tottenham.
“The mood is always good, but of course when you don’t win at United there is frustration and disappointment, but the unity is always there,” said ten Haag. “But we know we’re not in the position we want to be in, so we have to build and work on process and results.”
United ended a run of three consecutive defeats at Burnley on Saturday, winning 1-0 in the league, but there was still a spell of weakness at Turf Moor.
Palace, however, were not good enough to check any nervousness at the back and when Nathaniel Clyne blasted a rare effort into the stands midway through the second half, Palace fans traveling to the corner of the stadium began chanting, “We had a shot, we had a shot.”
“The way the game finished, United were in complete control for long spells,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said. “We really built our stall to deal with this game. We have to accept that we didn’t go the way we wanted tonight.”
It didn’t help that Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson, making his debut following a £15m summer move from United, was forced off through injury after 20 minutes. It was one of those nights when nothing could go their way.
Midfielder and second-half substitute David Ojoh had a golden chance to score a late consolation goal but pulled his shot away when it looked easy to hit the target. Palace fans decided long ago to see the funny side and said, “We score when we want.”
There have been occasions this season when opposition sides have been able to score at will against United — Brighton and Bayern Munich in particular — and Ten Haag will be as pleased to see United score three goals as he will be to get a second clean sheet. Sheets at intervals of four days.
Garnacho opened the scoring for Manchester United
Alejandro Garnacho collects a ball from Diogo Dalot and puts it into the net.
All eyes were on criticism of Maguire, making his first start of the season, but he made no mistake and made a crucial save in the six-yard box to deny striker Jean-Philippe Mateta a tap-in. Score 0-0.
Afterwards, Ten Haag had praise for Mason Mount, who got 45 minutes on his return to the team, and Amrabat, who filled in at left-back and in the center of midfield.
“That’s one of the reasons we signed him. He can play wherever the team needs him,” Ten Haag said of Amrabat.
The Jadon Sancho saga is still playing out in the background and key players like Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martinez are sidelined with injuries, but it was a rare day when Ten Haag sat down after a game to talk positively about his team and his players.
His post-match press conference included a nod to the work ahead to rebuild the season and he added a warning that “we won’t go too far” — but it was still a night when the United manager went home happy.