MK Dons vs. Manchester United: Winners and Losers from Capital One Cup Game
MK Dons are through to the next stage of the Capital One Cup after an astonishing 4-0 win over slumping Manchester United on Tuesday.
Will Grigg and Benik Afobe bagged a brace apiece for the hosts, who repeatedly took advantage of sloppy United defending to send the sellout crowd inside Stadium mk into rapture.
It was actually a mostly comfortable 90 minutes for The Dons, who benefited from some standout performances while their high-profile opponents struggled to muster anything meaningful in the attacking third.
Then there was United’s compilation of gaffes, which basically gifted their hosts a trip to the third round of the competition.
Following are some winners and losers from an unforgettable night in Milton Keynes.
Winner: Ben Reeves, Who Picked Up Three Assists
Ben Reeves was the best player on the pitch on Tuesday night.
Never second to a loose ball, he set up Will Grigg’s opener following Manchester United defender Jonny Evans’ giveaway and then helped Grigg complete his brace with an inch-perfect cross from the left that the striker chested into the back of the net.
His third assist of a memorable performance came in the 70th minute when he slid a delightful pass through to Benik Afobe, who put the result beyond all doubt.
Loser: Manchester United’s Back Three
Neither Michael Keane, Jonny Evans nor Marnick Vermijl seemed to have the slightest notion of their assignments Tuesday, and they were made to look a laughingstock as a result.
First, it was Evans—the veteran of the group—coughing up possession under pressure from Samir Carruthers ahead of Will Grigg’s opener; on the fourth goal, it was Vermijl losing the ball and allowing Benik Afobe an unobstructed run into the 18-yard box.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has yet to waver from his commitment to the 3-5-2 formation being installed at Old Trafford, although Tuesday’s defeat—and the magnitude of it—may give him pause for thought.
Winner: Dean Bowditch, Who Never Stopped Running
No one worked harder than Dean Bowditch at Stadium mk.
The 28-year-old (a former England underage international) tortured Manchester United’s disorganised defense until his withdrawal in the 56th minute and willingly lent a hand on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Shortly before the break, Bowditch sprinted back into his own end to slice the ball off Saidy Janko’s boot following a good pass from Adnan Januzaj.
Loser: The United Veterans, Who Offered No Leadership Whatsoever
It’s difficult to single out the Manchester United players in the “losers” category, as there were simply so many of them on Tuesday night.
As Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph wrote:
Mistakes and timidity could almost be forgiven in youngsters like Michael Keane but not in experienced campaigners like Jonny Evans, the captain whose lack of concentration contributed to this calamity.
United had five full internationals starting, Adnan Januzaj coming on and resembled a mediocre collection of strangers who shamed the shirt.
Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez certainly underwhelmed.
Welbeck, whose days at United could be numbered, failed to place a single shot on target and was typically dealt with comfortably by George Baldock and Dean Lewington. Hernandez, meanwhile, was a nightmare in possession, and his attempts at finishing were comical.
Anderson, in the centre of the park, played as lethargic as he looked and was among the players responsible for MK Dons’ second goal.
Then there was Jonny Evans, who gave the ball away in the buildup to the opener and generally appeared as if he had no idea where to be on the pitch.
United manager Louis van Gaal opted to start a handful of youngsters at Stadium mk, and they were not helped along by veteran players who should have led by example.
Winner: Benik Afobe, Who Might Be an Answer for Arsenal
Benik Afobe has been on the books at Arsenal since he was six years old but has yet to make his senior debut for the Gunners.
This summer, he was loaned to MK Dons until the end of the season, and he opened his account at the club with a second-half double against Manchester United.
His second goal, which rounded out the scoring, was particularly impressive as he bulldozed his way through three United players before squaring himself to goal and striking the ball past goalkeeper David De Gea.
An England Under-21 international, Afobe could well work himself into Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s plans with a series of similar performances, and at the very least, he looks as though he’ll prove to be a valuable asset to the club.
Loser: Shinji Kagawa, Who Left Injured
Shinji Kagawa got a rare start on Tuesday, despite failing to impress Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal.
But just a day after the Dutchman told reporters Kagawa “did not wish to fulfill my wishes,” as per ESPN FC, the Japan international was named to United’s starting line-up against MK Dons.
It should have been an opportunity for the 25-year-old to demonstrate his quality, but instead, he walked off injured after only 20 minutes.
According to Kieran Gill of the Daily Mail, United believe the playmaker sustained a concussion.
He just can’t catch a break.