Southampton who did not concede a single goal during the competition conceded three on the night while replying with only two goals losing 3-2 to United in the process.
Ibrahimovic opened the scoring and Lingard added another but Gabbiadini scored just on the stroke of half-time to half United’s lead. Gabbiadini was on hand to equalize just three minutes into the second half but Ibrahimovic scored a late-late header to win Jose Mourinho his first trophy for Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho played De Gea in goal and opted for a defense of Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, and Rojo in front of the Spanish No.1. Herrera and Pogba were chosen to anchor the midfield and the trio of Lingard, Mata and Martial played behind Ibrahimovic with Mkhitaryan out due to injury. Club captain and leading goalscorer Rooney was on the bench with Rashford whose senior club career turned one year old yesterday.
Claude Puel started Forster in goal with Cedric, Stephens, Yoshida, and Bertrand forming the defense in front of the Englishman with Van Dijk missing due to injury. Puel luckily had his first choice midfield Davis, Romeu, and Ward-Prowse all available and starting. An exciting front three of Redmond, Gabbiadini, and Tadic started up front with Boufal on the bench.
Both the sides were pressing with a good intent in the first few minutes of the game. Pogba took the first shot of the game from around 30 yards out but it was straight at Forster. Tadic and Bertrand lit up the left-hand side leaving Valencia and Bailly for dead but Bertrand’s cross did not meet any player in the box. Rojo could not stop Cedric from getting on the loose ball and his low cross was put in the back of the net by Gabbiadini but it was wrongly called offside by the assistant referee. United started putting pressure on Southampton with counter-attacks and Romeu went in with a late challenge on Herrera and gave a free kick away in a central area around 25 yards away from the goal. Ibrahimovic hit the free-kick with pace and curled it away from Forster who may have got a fingertip to the ball but was not able to save it from hitting the back of the net. Mata and Smalling were part of the wall formed for the free kick but both got out at the last moment allowing Zlatan to hit it clean through on goal. At the half hour mark, Ward-Prowse got a rocket off after Gabbiadini chested the ball down but De Gea pulled out a great save from his bag. Redmond trying to use the momentum built spotted Tadic in space but his shot was straight at De Gea though United No.1 had to get down to make the save. Rojo who took a throw out wide on the left-hand side was at the heart of proceedings and played one-twos before finally teeing up Lingard in a central position at the edge of the box and the Englishman gave justice to the move by producing a cucumber-cool finish in the bottom corner. Two minutes later, Stephens went for a rash two-footed challenge on Martial with his studs showing up but Mr.Marriner only brandished a yellow card. At the stroke of half time, Redmond played Ward-Prowse behind and his cross was touched in by Gabbiadini between the legs of De Gea.
Southampton was clearly the better team in the eventful first half but went into half-time trailing Manchester United by a goal.
Michael Carrick came on for the ineffective Juan Mata at half- time. Gabbiadini scored three minutes into the second half to equalize. Continuous corners put pressure on United and it paid off when Davis headed it down and Gabbiadini on the turn and on the half-volley buried the ball in the back of the net leaving De Gea no chance. Just as the hour mark passed, Romeu hit the post from a Ward-Prowse corner. As the game entered its last fifteen minutes, Martial crossed in with his left foot before Lingard chested it down but he fired high from six yards. In the 84th minute, Ibrahimovic held up the play well and played in Rashford whose shot from a tight angle was saved by Forster at the near post. Two minutes later, Stephens’ header which was looking destined for the back of the net was cleared by Ibrahimovic. On the counter, United stitched a beautiful move and Herrera crossed it to Ibrahimovic who placed himself between the two centre backs and he was on hand to score the winning goal with his head. United survived the last few minutes and won the EFL cup for their manager Jose Mourinho who became the first manager to win the cup with two different clubs and now has won it record four times equal with Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Brian Clough. Also, Mourinho now has won five different cup finals in England without losing one.
My Man of the Match was Gabbiadini who would have scored a hat-trick had it not been for a wrong decision by the assistant referee.
This victory makes Manchester United the most successful English side leapfrogging Liverpool has 41 major trophies.