Hull City 2-1 Manchester United (2-3 aggregate): United stutter into EFL Cup final
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 27/01/17 9:45am
Manchester United will play Southampton in the EFL Cup final, despite a 2-1 defeat at Hull City in Thursday's semi-final second leg.
Tom Huddlestone's controversial first-half penalty and Oumar Niasse's late strike earned victory for Marco Silva's side on the night, but Paul Pogba's 66th-minute goal ensured United progressed 3-2 on aggregate.
Ultimately, Marouane Fellaini's late goal in United's 2-0 victory at Old Trafford a fortnight ago proved the defining moment in the tie as Hull fell agonisingly short of an unlikely comeback, despite ending United's 17-game unbeaten run.
The result sees United set up a showdown with Southampton at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, February 26 as Jose Mourinho seeks to guide the club to League Cup success for the fifth time in their history.
There were plenty of empty seats at the KCOM Stadium, a sign of the uphill task Hull faced ahead of kick-off, but those in attendance saw the home side dominate the first half and haul themselves back into the tie.
Sam Clucas warmed the palms of David de Gea early on and - as the home fans applauded the injured Ryan Mason in the 25th minute - only a last-ditch Chris Smalling tackle denied Michael Dawson from close range.
But Hull were controversially presented with a lifeline from the penalty spot 10 minutes before the break when Marcos Rojo was penalised for pulling the shirt of Harry Maguire from a corner, despite replays showing minimal contact between the two.
Huddlestone's low penalty gave De Gea no chance as it struck the side-netting and halved the deficit.
United almost hit back immediately as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's right-footed curler forced a tremendous low save from David Marshall to his left, but that was the only attempt on target in a disappointing first half for the visitors.
An increasingly frustrated Mourinho was raging on the touchline eight minutes after the break when Huddlestone pushed Chris Smalling off the ball as he shaped to shoot, but referee Jon Moss pointed for a corner, not to the penalty spot.
But United's fears were eased as Pogba scored a 66th-minute away goal to effectively end Hull's Wembley dreams.
It was soft goal to concede too, as Ibrahimovic found Marcus Rashford inside the area and Huddlestone's stabbed tackle fell perfectly into the path of Pogba to poke home from six yards.
Marcos Rojo almost added a second minutes later when he headed a Jesse Lingard corner on to the top of the bar before Niasse suffered the same fate at the other end, rattling the woodwork from Evandro's corner.
But Niasse, starting for the first time following his move from Everton, was not to be denied in the 84th minute as he finished off a sweeping Hull City move to give his side victory on the night.
Substitute Lazar Markovic played in David Meyler in space on the right and his inch-perfect volleyed cross allowed Niasse to tap in from four yards.
However, Hull were unable to find the goal that would have taken the tie to extra-time and must now turn their attentions to their fight to stay in the Premier League.
United, meanwhile, have a chance of Wembley glory on February 26, but Mourinho knows it will take a much-improved performance to see them claim the EFL Cup.
The 2017 EFL Cup Final will be exclusively live on Sky Sports on Sunday February 26.