Manchester United clinch League Cup after final victory over Newcastle

Casemiro and a Botman own goal take Erik ten Hag's side to a 2-0 win at Wembley

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Manchester United clinched their first trophy in almost six years on Sunday after defeating Newcastle United 2-0 in the League Cup final at Wembley.

Casemiro opened the scoring when he headed home Luke Shaw's perfect set-piece cross in the 33rd minute and Sven Botman's own goal, deflecting a Marcus Rashford strike over goalkeeper Loris Karius, six minutes later proved the difference.

In lifting the League Cup, United have claimed their first piece of silverware since winning the Europa League in 2017 and provided tangible proof of the progress being made under manager Erik ten Hag since his appointment last summer.The celebrations that accompanied United's sixth League Cup triumph could be the first of many trophy parades on the evidence of Ten Hag's transformative first season.

United remain challengers on three other fronts, sitting third in the Premier League and with an FA Cup fifth round tie against West Ham on Wednesday followed by a Europa League last 16 tie against Real Betis in March.

After 10 years in the wilderness since Alex Ferguson retired having led them to their last Premier League title in 2013, United are finally emerging from one of the darkest periods in the club's illustrious history.

United finished a dismal sixth in the Premier League last season, but Ten Hag has swiftly masterminded their return to relevance. It was fitting that Ten Hag's maiden trophy success with United came after he met Ferguson for dinner recently and with the Scot watching from the Wembley stands.

Ending United's longest trophy drought for 40 years is no guarantee of future success, but the steely Ten Hag appears capable of thriving in the unrelenting Old Trafford spotlight.

Despite failing to win their first major trophy since the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, Newcastle can also expect to feature in more showpiece occasions soon.

Newcastle have been revitalised since their takeover by a Saudi-funded consortium in 2021 and they competed gamely in their first cup final for 24 years. Hauled from the relegation zone by manager Eddie Howe last season, they sit fifth in the Premier League, a sleeping giant awaking after decades as the laughing stock of English football.

Newcastle's fanatical 'Toon Army' turned one half of Wembley into a roiling sea of black and white as they belted out songs of praise for their heroes well over an hour before kick-off. But that show of passion proved the highpoint of the day for Newcastle as United spoiled the party in composed style.

Newcastle had feared stand-in keeper Loris Karius might be exposed in his first major occasion since his howlers led to Liverpool's 2018 Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid.

Playing instead of the suspended Nick Pope, Karius might feel he could have done better with United's second goal, but he was not to blame for Newcastle's defeat.

Allan Saint-Maximin had toothless Newcastle's best opportunity to snatch the lead when he skipped past Diogo Dalot for a fierce strike that David De Gea repelled with an out-stretched hand.

It was a crucial save as United went ahead moments later in the 33rd minute. Shaw's free-kick arrowed towards the Newcastle six-yard box and Casemiro timed his run perfectly to glance a clinical header past Karius.

It was just reward for the latest commanding performance from the United midfielder following his move from Real Madrid last year.

United then doubled their lead in the 39th minute. Wout Weghorst's pass found Marcus Rashford inside the area and, with Newcastle's defenders slow to react, he hit a mistimed shot that deflected off Botman and looped over the wrong-footed Karius.

Newcastle laid siege to De Gea's goal in the second half but, showing the desire and organisation demanded by their manager, Ten Hag's men refused to buckle.

If United's last League Cup triumph ended up as fool's gold, this success suggests the Ten Hag era is built on far stronger foundations.

Updated: February 27, 2023, 6:11 AM