Jose Mourinho moved a step closer to a major trophy in his first season as Manchester United manager as goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini secured a first-leg victory over Hull City in the semi-final of the EFL Cup.
A near full-strength United struggled to break down resilient Hull in a first half in which the hosts had just two shots on target – Mata forcing a good save out of goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic, who also tipped over Paul Pogba’s long-range effort.
The visitors had chances of their own against a side who had won their eight previous games in all competitions, Robert Snodgrass causing problems from set-pieces.
However, Mata got the breakthrough just before the hour mark when he tapped in from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s knockdown.
Substitute Fellaini scored a second late on, heading in from Matteo Darmian’s cross to put United in command heading into the second leg on 26 January.
Fellaini’s late goal means a turnaround in the second leg might be too big a challenge, but their overall performance will give their fans hope in the battle to stay in the Premier League.