Zlatan Ibrahimovic was ultimately the Manchester United hero on another dramatic day at Wembley as Jose Mourinho claimed his first trophy as Reds manager with a thrilling 3-2 EFL Cup final victory over Southampton.
The Swede struck two goals, including the vital winner three minutes from time, to seal a fifth League Cup triumph for United. But it was far from plain sailing for the Reds who were pegged back by the impressive Saints having gone two goals ahead in the first half thanks to Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard.
Manolo Gabbiadini netted twice for the Saints, but United, in typical fashion, found a way to emerge victorious and win the silverware through Ibrahimovic’s late header.
While Southampton named an unchanged side from their last match two weeks ago, Mourinho made six changes to the team that won at Saint-Etienne in midweek. In came David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera, Lingard and Anthony Martial for Sergio Romero, Ashley Young, Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and the injured Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
It was the Reds who had the first sight of goal when Paul Pogba’s well-struck shot was punched away by Fraser Forster, but it was the Saints who enjoyed the best of the opportunities in the opening period. And they would have been ahead but for an offside flag on 11 minutes.
Gabbiadini had the ball in the net after a cross from Cedric from the right, but the flag was up against Ryan Bertrand who was running in behind Gabbiadini and the strike was chalked off.
The Saints continued to look dangerous in attack but an incident at the other end, on 19 minutes, brought the first goal of the game. Oriol Romeu’s foul on Herrera allowed Ibrahimovic to take aim from 25 yards with a sublime free-kick over the wall and past the outstretched arm of Forster.
The goal did little to deter Saints who continued to attack and United had De Gea to thank after two excellent stops from James Ward-Prowse and Dusan Tadic.