Manchester United required late goals from Edinson Cavani and Anthony Martial to overcome Everton with a 2-0 win in the Carabao Cup quarter-final.
United reached the semi-finals of three different competitions last season, and they made it to the last four of the first possible one with a narrow win at Goodison Park.
The first half saw Everton withstand some pressure from United, although there were not many major chances.
Everton goalkeeper Robin Olsen had a couple of shaky moments in the opening stages.
He wasn’t troubled, though, when Mason Greenwood glanced a header wide in a decent chance.
At the other end, Everton were struggling to get the ball to Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Instead, they had to rely on set pieces for chances, with Gylfi Sigurdsson seeing a free kick saved, for example.
Cavani gets crucial goal
The second half followed a similar pattern, with few clearcut opportunities.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a couple of substitutions that would go on to make an impact. In the process, he took off Donny van de Beek – who had been in the same starting lineup as both Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes for the first time.
However, as the prospect of penalties loomed, it was a starter who got a crucial goal.
After being fed the ball by Martial, Cavani fired a left-footed finish home across Olsen’s dive. It was his first goal in the competition on his first appearance in it.
💥 "That's what you need to do to get to a semi-final, a ruthless strike from Edinson Cavani!"
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) December 23, 2020
Everton may have felt aggrieved at the identity of the scorer. Cavani could have been punished for a clash with Yerry Mina earlier in the match. However, he stayed on the pitch and had a vital final say.
Stoppage time was frantic and end-to-end as Everton pushed for an equaliser and United tried to punish them on the counter attack.
As the clock ticked down, Marcus Rashford slid in fellow substitute Martial for a neat finish to double the lead with the last kick of the game.
United have still not conceded in the competition this season. They consequently book their place in the semi-finals alongside Manchester City, Tottenham and Brentford.