Juan Mata superb with master class passing display for Man United vs. Hull
Manchester United took control of this EFL League Cup tie with a 2-0 win vs. Hull City, thanks to two second-half goals. The outstanding Juan Mata opened the scoring, and Marouane Fellaini completed it with a late header. Before that, though, Old Trafford had to endure several frustrating misses after United's sharp passing repeatedly opened up Hull's deep-lying defence.
The visitors, managed by newcomer Marco Silva, acquitted themselves very well, striking the post in the first half, going close on a couple of other occasions and even dominating possession for a short spell. But United's superiority told in the end, and Jose Mourinho's team claimed their ninth successive win.
Mata was superb throughout and far too swift of thought and foot for Hull. Paul Pogba turned in another dominant performance, and Ander Herrera's selfless industry was the basis for their enterprising play. The two full-backs, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia, also worked to very good effect.
United's finishing was mostly poor, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan the main culprit and Wayne Rooney not too far behind. The game should have been sealed long before Mata's opener, and Rooney should have become the outright holder of the club's scoring record.
8 out of 10 -- Mourinho started with a strong lineup and adjusted it with enough time for his changes to take effect. He was rewarded in particular with the introduction of Fellaini, who clinched the game and very possibly the tie.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 7 -- He made some good stops when the game was goalless and Hull looked threatening on the break. He came off his line to clear whenever needed.
DF Antonio Valencia, 8 -- Valencia linked well with the attacking midfielders, showing a greater variation of passes in the final third than usual and getting back well to defend.
DF Phil Jones, 7 -- He was occasionally unsettled by Hull's direct running but otherwise solid.
DF Chris Smalling, 7 -- Smalling had a reasonably quiet evening, apart from a brief period in the first half when Hull countered with real intent.
DF Matteo Darmian, 7 -- He put in one of his better games, getting forward at almost every opportunity. He did not always have the best delivery but sent in a superb cross for Fellaini's goal.
MF Paul Pogba, 8 -- Pogba was excellent again. He showed a fine range of long and short passing, was strong in possession and hit the post with a terrific free kick.
MF Ander Herrera, 8 -- He worked extremely hard, covering, closing down and prompting attacks, and apart from one risky concession of the ball, he was pretty much flawless.
MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 7 -- He produced some excellent approach play but was let down by profligate finishing. His scoring touch has left him for the moment, though he did provide the assist for Mata's opener.
MF Juan Mata, 9 -- Outstanding. Mata was too much for Hull on a night when he netted his 33rd goal in 129 games for United -- a better rate than his time at Chelsea -- and frequently bewildered his opponents with his change of direction and range of passing. This was a master class.
FW Wayne Rooney, 6 -- Rooney could have claimed United's scoring record, but while some of his buildup play and pressing were good, his finishing was not. This was a frustrating night for him.
FW Marcus Rashford, 7 -- He started as a central striker but mostly ran the channels, which he did very well. His extraordinary pace was a great asset in getting in behind Hull's defence.
MF Anthony Martial, 7 -- Martial was an immediate danger to Hull, with his direct running, and the opposition were never quite able to deal with his elusive movement. His persistence led to Darmian's assist for Fellaini's goal.
MF Jesse Lingard, 6 -- He was his usual bustling self when he came on, but he did not make a crucial contribution.
MF Maroaune Fellaini, N/A -- He was an instant threat in attack as a target man for high balls, and he sealed the game with a fine angled header.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.