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Solskjaer explains why Fred took Man Utd's late free-kick in Carabao Cup semi-final

04:21 EAT 30/01/2020
Fred Manchester United 2019-20
The Brazilian surprisingly stepped up late in the game but failed to make the most of it

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended the decision to allow Fred to take a late free-kick in their 1-0 win over Manchester City in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final. 

Having lost the first-leg 3-1 at Old Trafford, the Red Devils opened the scoring at the Etihad via Nemanja Matic and were awarded a free-kick just outside of City's box late in the game. 

While many expected Juan Mata to take the set-piece, Fred instead stepped up, with his tame effort failing to to clear City's wall and denying United the chance to take the tie to penalties. 

Former Red Devil Rio Ferdinand took to social media to slam the decision to let Fred take the free-kick with Solskjaer left to explain why the Brazilian was given the duties post-match. 

“Juan is the best one when he feels like it,” Solskjaer said. “But they practiced yesterday and Juan told me that Fred was unbelievable in training. 

“He scored six or seven on the bounce apparently, and they both felt this was his moment. That was the decision they made there and then. Probably the right decision, but it didn’t work out well.”

While Solskjaer's side were a good free-kick away from taking the semi-final to spot-kicks, Pep Guardiola was quick to stress that his side dominated the two matches. 

“Today we met an incredible, physical side,” Guardiola said. 

“Their goal was a set-piece and the first time they shot on target. In the second half they shot once and no more than that.

“I am really pleased. For the 180 minutes we played in both games, we were better. I am so satisfied with the way we played and with the problems we have in the back four, with the injuries we have.

“I’m very pleased to be in the final for a third year in a row. When people talk about complacency because of what we have won; we would not be able to make the final three years in a row. 

“Normally when you win a lot, this competition doesn’t matter. That’s never happened with my team. We can lose, but it [complacency] will never happen. It's never happened in my eleven or twelve years as a manger.

“I am incredibly delighted for all of us because it doesn’t matter what competition we play, we try to win. I’m happy to be at Wembley against a historical team like Aston Villa.”