The Red Devils have a foot in the final after a 3-0 win at the City Ground last week, and either Southampton or Newcastle United will await Erik ten Hag’s men at Wembley if they escape a disastrous collapse today.
Despite failing to win either of their two most recent Premier League matches against Crystal Palace and Arsenal, Man United scored three goals – all of which came at crucial stages in the game – to secure a comfortable first-leg lead at Forest’s home field.
Marcus Rashford took only six minutes to break the stalemate before Wout Weghorst scored his first goal for the Red Devils shortly before halftime, and Bruno Fernandes added the icing on the cake with 89 minutes remaining.
Ten Hag is no stranger to winning trophies during his time as manager of Ajax, who have just sacked his successor Alfred Schreuder, and is now potentially only 180 minutes away from clinching Man United’s first piece of silverware since 2017, with the possibility of a domestic cup double still alive.
Indeed, a powerful Red Devils XI defeated Reading 3-1 in the FA Cup fourth round over the weekend, with Casemiro scoring twice and Fred adding a goal, extending Man United’s scoring streak to 19 games in all competitions.
No side has ever been eliminated with a three-goal lead from the first leg of an EFL Cup semi-final, although the more superstitious Man United fans may not be rooting for a win here since the Red Devils have lost all three of their EFL Cup finals when winning both legs of the semis.
Steve Cooper’s Tricky Trees will seize whatever ray of hope comes their them this week, as Forest looks to do something no club has ever done in the EFL Cup: come back from a three-goal deficit in the semi-finals.
The visitors to the Theatre of Dreams have had a full weekend of rest and preparation following their humbling FA Cup third-round elimination to Blackpool, but few Forest fans will be dreaming of a miraculous comeback on Wednesday night.
A semi-final departure would still be Nottingham Forest’s finest run in the EFL Cup in 31 years, having reached the final of the 1991-92 edition before succumbing to Manchester United, but the steadily-improving visitors can still take advantage of any complacency from their more illustrious hosts.
Only two of the Tricky Trees’ past five away games in all competitions have resulted in defeat, one of which being a 3-0 loss to Man United in the Premier League, and they have scored once in each of their last three away games.
However, Forest’s three-goal defeat in the first leg of their semi-final marked the Tricky Trees’ ninth defeat in a row versus Man United across all tournaments, and the Tricky Trees had not returned home from Old Trafford with a victory since the 1994-95 Premier League season.