THE ACADEMY

06/04/2010 09:12, Report by Ben Hibbs

U18s complete Italian job

United's Under-18s retained the title in the Torneo Calcio Memorial Claudio Sassi-Sassuolo in Italy with a 1-0 win over Bologna in the final over Easter weekend.

Larnell Cole scored the game's only goal after an hour. United had put Bologna under intense pressure in the first half but couldn't find a way through until the hour mark when Paul Pogba crossed for Cole to head home.

Free from Premier Academy League duty, Paul McGuinness' side travelled to Maranello to take part in the tournament United won for the first time last year.

United's defence of the Memorial Claudio Sassi began with defeat to OB Odense from Denmark on Friday. However, the young Reds got into their stride with a 4-0 win over hosts Modena and a 5-0 hammering of local side Virtus Castelfranco. Those wins earned United second spot in the group stages, and a semi-final spot against co-hosts U.S. Sassuolo, who the Reds defeated 2-1.

In the other semi-final, winners of United's group, OB Odense, were defeated by Bologna to set up the final with United.

Bologna proved difficult to break down in the first half. The Italians had the best chance of the opening 45 minutes, before Cole put United in front. Reds goalkeeper Conor Devlin made a good late save to protect United's slender lead, and ultimately ensure the Reds ended the weekend victorious.

Skipper Scott Wootton collected the trophy from Italy international Luca Toni. McGuinness will hope that this taste of success will urge his young charges for a strong finish in the league, with Group C's top spot up for grabs and ultimately a place in the Premier Academy League title play-offs at stake.