Goals from Juan Mata and substitute Marouane Fellaini gave Man Utd a 2-0 win over Hull in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford.
Mata gave United the lead 11 minutes into the second half, tapping in at the far post from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s header across goal, though the Spaniard was in an offside position by inches.
Wayne Rooney had flashed inches wide just moments before, as he looked for the single goal to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time United goalscoring record, before being substituted after the opening goal.
Paul Pogba also hit the post with 15 minutes remaining from a free-kick, before Fellaini added a vital second with three minutes remaining with a looping header from Matteo Darmian’s deep cross.
The second leg will be played on January 26 at the KCOM Stadium, live on Sky Sports.
United made seven changes from the side that beat Reading in the FA Cup on Saturday, with captain Rooney given the opportunity to break Sir Bobby’s all-time goal record after equalling it with the opener against the Royals.
Mata nearly put United ahead, forcing Eldin Jakupovic into a smart save with a first-time effort from inside the area after Darmian’s fine cross, before Andrew Robertson cleared ahead of Rooney just as he was about to pounce on Marcus Rashford’s dragged effort.
Mkihtaryan then should have scored from close-range after Darmian’s cut-back, but he side-footed the ball half-a-yard wide with the goal gaping from 12 yards.
Adama Diomande then hit the post, despite wrongly being called offside, heading off the woodwork after Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick had been flicked on by the head of Chris Smalling.
Abel Hernandez then forced David de Gea into a smart save at his near post, concluding a half that Hull will feel they edged.
Rooney so nearly got his record 250th Manchester United goal, having been played through on goal by Pogba’s superb diagonal ball, but the England man flashed the ball inches wide on the half volley.
United were ahead a few minutes later through Mata, his seventh goal of the season, as the Spaniard tapped in with his left foot at the far post following Mkhitaryan’s header across goal. The replays did however show that Mata was inches offside.
Hull failed to threaten in the second half, and United nearly had the game wrapped up on 75 minutes but for the post denying Pogba from 25 yards with a superb curling free-kick.
It was 2-0 from an unlikely source late on, as Fellaini’s looped header from Darmian’s left-wing cross beat Jakupovic and Tom Huddlestone on the line.