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    Manchester United Roll vs. West Ham 4-1, Advance to EFL Cup Semifinals

    Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic chips a shot over West Ham keeper Adrian in a EFL Cup quarterfinal match.
    Manchester United joined Hull, Liverpool, and Southampton in the semifinals of the EFL Cup after a 4-1 victory over West Ham United on Wednesday evening. The Red Devils hosted Slaven Bilic's side at Old Trafford after the two sides played out a 1-1 draw in the Premier League three days ago.

    Jose Mourinho watched from the stands on Wednesday, after serving a one-match ban following his actions during Sunday's draw. The Man U manager was punished for kicking a water bottle down the touchline after a yellow-card was given to midfielder Paul Pogba for diving.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic started up-top, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Wayne Rooney, and Anthony Martial all featuring. Michael Carrick played aside Ander Herrera as holding midfielders, while Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind started as wingbacks. West Ham countered with youngster Ashley Fletcher in attack with Dimitri Payet, Sofiane Feghouli, and Michail Antonio also providing threats. A back-three of Angelo Ogbonna, Winston Reid, and Cheikhou Kouyate provided physicality and aerial weapons.

    Manchester United quickly opened the scoring when Zlatan Ibrahimovic tapped around Hammers keeper Adrian for a 1-0 lead after only two minutes. Henrikh Mkhitaryan assisted on the opening goal by the Swede, giving the Armenian his first point of the season. Ibrahimovic again forced Adrian into action, giving the Spaniard two more shots to deal with. The Red Devils continued to force pressure against the West Ham back-line, with Wayne Rooney barely missing from a free-kick, and Anthony Martial nearly bending a curler into the bottom-right corner.

    West Ham however kept their heads up and equalised ten minutes to halftime. Former Manchester United youth product Ashley Fletcher tapped home his first goal for the Hammers after David de Gea bundled Dimitri Payet's original effort. Fletcher, 21, who netted five times for Barnsley last season on-loan, has been a regular since joining the London club.

    Going into halftime, Bilic was forced into his first substitution after Arthur Masuaku came on for the injured Aaron Cresswell.

    Martial put United 2-1 up three minutes into the second half after he sliced home Mkhitaryan's second assist from inside the box. It was the Frenchman's fourth goal in five matches against the Hammers in all comps.

    Bilic countered going down by bringing on the likes of Manuel Lanzini for Michail Antonio. Ibrahimovic almost made it 3-1 after his free-kick was close to going through Adrian's grip and into the net. Martial netted his second of the game to make it 3-1, right after the hour-mark as he tapped home Antonio Valencia's cross. The Frenchman was left wide-open by the Hammers defense for an easy finish.

    Simone Zaza came on for Payet with 15 minutes to go to provide another attacking threat for West Ham who saw their cup run slipping away. Another good save from Adrian on Ibrahimovic in the 80th kept the score at 3-1.

    Zaza came close to heading in but failed to get much power behind his attempt. Bastian Schweinsteiger was brought on with minutes remaining to replace Martial, while Marcus Rashford also came on for Mkhitaryan. The German almost sent the Stretford end into ecstasy missing on a long-range effort.

    Feghouli came close on Kouyate's pullback but his right-footed effort just missed the bar. Ibrahimovic slammed home from Herrera's cross in stoppage time to put the score at 4-1 to stamp the score at Old Trafford. It was the Swede's third goal in the last four days against the London opponents. Zlatan's goal would be the final touch of the match which sent Manchester United through to the semifinals.

    Out-possessing West Ham 57%-43% helped Manchester United have 10 shots-on-target compared to the Hammers two. David de Gea made one save, while Adrian made six. Unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions, sees Manchester United playing with a lot more flare than in the early parts of the season.

    West Ham, who are a point off from the relegation zone in league play didn't bring an attacking edge with them on Wednesday and were pressured heavily throughout the match. After knocking Chelsea out of the competition back in October, a lot was expected of the Hammers going into the quarterfinals. Slaven Bilic's side are now win less in their last five matches in all comps, which could soon see some changes if results don't start coming in.

    Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick credited the team for finishing off the match, in his post-match interview with Sky Sports
    "We were disappointed with how we finished the first half and frustrated we let the control of the game go. It was nice to come out in the second half and finish the game off comfortably. We are creating good chances but things are not going for us. They had half a chance and scored from it. Credit for the boys who killed it off."

    Manchester United will now face Hull City in one of the two-legged semifinals in January, but will travel to Everton in the league next on Saturday. Wayne Rooney, who earned a yellow-card in tonight's quarterfinal, will miss due to suspension. Struggling West Ham will now prepare for a tough London Derby vs. Arsenal also on Saturday.

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    Item Reviewed: Manchester United Roll vs. West Ham 4-1, Advance to EFL Cup Semifinals Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Larry Henry Jr
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