FA Youth Cup: The story so far
Manchester United will host Chelsea or Nottingham Forest in the FA Youth Cup final, and here's how our Under-18s made it to the final of the prestigious competition.
Travis Binnion's young Reds entered the tournament at the third-round stage and have since played four games at Old Trafford and one away from home. The final will also be played at Old Trafford.
THIRD ROUND: UNITED 4 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 2
Alejandro Garnacho laid down a marker early on in the competition with an acrobatic finish in front of the Stretford End proving the highlight of this match.
Travis Binnion’s side led early on thanks to Sam Mather’s tap-in from a Garnacho pull-back. The lively winger made it two when he controlled Charlie McNeill’s pass before lashing it home while airborne. Scunthorpe got one back before half-time, Harry Lewis finding the net after a goalmouth scramble.
United restored the two-goal lead soon, after the restart, with Maximillian Oyedele finishing into the bottom-left corner from the edge of the area. McNeill scored the fourth, converting simply into an empty net after good work from him and Mather. The visitors grabbed another goal before full-time with Josh Robertson finishing off a superb free-kick routine.
“I thought we played with a good energy and approached the game in the right way,” Binnion said. “Our attitude was good and we were at it. It’s what we expect.”
UNITED: Vitek; Jurado (c), Fredricson, Jackson, Murray; Oyedele (Gore 67), Mainoo, Mather, Hansen, Garnacho (Ennis 76); McNeill (Norkett 82).
Goals: Mather 13, Garnacho 26, Oyedele 48, McNeill 53.
Scunthorpe: Foster; Wallace, Young (Elliott-Bell 87), Moore, Lewis; Cribb (Franklin 73), Robertson, Moore-Billam, Lobley; Poulter, Sellars-Fleming (Burden 74).
Goals: Lewis 38, Robertson 63.
FOURTH ROUND: READING 1 UNITED 3
Travelling to Berkshire to take on Reading, Mather and McNeill found the net again, but it was Kobbie Mainoo who claimed the first goal after 24 minutes. The Stockport-born midfielder pounced on a loose Reading touch and finished powerfully with his left foot.
Reading showed plenty of attacking promise in the opening 45 minutes, while United’s play was not quite so fluent as in previous games, but the Reds capitalised on any and every defensive mistake. Mather’s deflected shot made it 2-0 and, within a minute of the restart, McNeill made it three with a couple of composed touches in the area before an efficient finish.
The Royals deservedly got themselves a goal back in the 82nd-minute when Ashton Greaver thrashed home inside the box.
Binnion was pleased with the result, but demanded a higher level of performance.
"The main objective is achieved," Travis said.
"We talked before the game about how these nights are unique. Getting through these nights breeds confidence, the learning experiences are like no other but we will have to be better in the next round to get through to the quarter-final, for sure.
"I’m a bit disappointed with the first and last 20 minutes. The big learning curve for this group of players is to be in control for longer and understand how you have that through dominating the ball, doing your work early, managing the pitch, constantly providing options and making the right decisions.”
Reading: Rowley, Abrefa (Abdel-Salem 71), Paul, Purcell, Kanu, Holzman, Nyarko, Senga, Clarke (Greaver 45), Vickers (Furlong 61), Okine-Peters.
Goals: Greaver 82
UNITED: Vitek; Jurado, Murray, Fredricson, Jackson; Oyedele (Pye 85), Mainoo; Mather, Hansen, Garnacho (Ennis 62); McNeill.
Goals: Mainoo 24, Mather 37, McNeill 38
FIFTH ROUND: UNITED 4 EVERTON 1
Everton initially proved tough opposition in the fifth round, with Francis Okoronkwo’s powerful 12th-minute shot giving the Toffees a well-earned lead. However, United settled into the game and responded quickly, first with McNeill’s penalty in the 13th minute and then, 15 minutes later, when Mainoo headed home a well-worked move involving McNeill and Marc Jurado on the right-wing.
United’s dominance grew after the break at Old Trafford and Mather extended the side's lead from close range. Moments before full-time, Garnacho scored a fantastic solo goal on the counter-attack, storming down the left wing before cutting inside to finish past Patrick Nash in the Toffees' goal.
Reviewing the competition so far this week, Binnion said: “I think the Everton game was probably the most pleasing in terms of how we really took hold of that game. We went behind in it, responded quite quickly and just really took control of the game. We played some fantastic football, defended well, and came out as really clear winners.”
UNITED: Vitek; Jurado, Fredricson, Bennett (c), Pye (Murray 60); Mainoo, Gore; Mather (Aljofree 82), Forson (Oyedele 71), Garnacho, McNeill.
Goals: McNeill 13, Mainoo 28, Mather 64, Garnacho 89.
Everton: Nash; Mallon, Smith, Campbell, Welch, Butterfield, Mills (Lawrence 74), Metcalfe, Sherif, Price (Barker 84), Okoronkwo (Djkankpata 74)
Goals: Okonronkwo 12.
QUARTER-FINAL: UNITED 2 LEICESTER CITY 1
Garnacho had starred right at the end for United against Everton and did so again throughout the quarter-final at Old Trafford.
Like Everton, Leicester City headed in front, through ex-Red Chris Popov. Garnacho’s low free-kick curler brought the scores level before the break, and United controlled the second half. Nevertheless, it seemed to be heading towards extra-time but Garnacho emphatically finished after Mainoo’s excellent pass to secure United’s semi-final berth.
“It’s always better to win the game as late as possible with as little time on the clock for the opposition to come back,” Binnion said.
“Although we won it late, I thought we thoroughly deserved to win the game. I thought we should have put it to bed in the second half. We created a lot of chances. We showed good character to come back. We went behind against Everton, we went behind again tonight, it’s not something we want to do but when you can come from behind and control the game, it’s pleasing.”
UNITED: Vitek; Jurado, Bennett (c), Fredricson, Murray; Gore, Mainoo; Mather (Norkett 81), Hansen (Oyedele 66), Garnacho (Aljofree 90); McNeill.
Goals: Garnacho 41, 89.
Leicester: Doherty, Nelson (Grist 81), Lindsay, Braybrooke (c), Godsmark Ford, Wilson-Brown, Cartwright (Cover 77), Popov, Booth (Butterfill 65), Alves.
Goal: Popov 29.
SEMI-FINAL: UNITED 3 WOLVES 0
Club captain Harry Maguire and team-mate Dean Henderson were in attendance at Old Trafford alongside Darren Fletcher, Technical Director, and John Murtough, Director of Football
United dominated the first half, with a strong Garnacho run in the box earning the first in a succession of corners. Pressure eventually paid off when Isak Hansen-Aaroen slipped Charlie McNeill through down the right wing and the Manchester-born striker duly rounded the goalkeeper and found the back of the net.
Before the end of the half, Garnacho had a shot cleared off the line, and Hansen-Aaroean and McNeill watched efforts head just wide of the left post.
Wolves caused concern early in the second half with a resurgent pressure on the United goal, but ‘keeper Radek Vitek remained unchallenged. The visitors’ best chance was when Dexter Lembikisa pulled it back for Tyler Roberts, but the no. 11’s shot sailed over.
United found a rhythm again quickly, McNeill shooting wide of the left post 10 minutes in after Kobbie Mainoo’s excellent throughball. Three minutes later, the lead was doubled. Sam Mather’s powerful pass set Garnacho off and the Spanish winger drove forward, cut back inside onto his right foot and found the far right sidenetting with a powerful, curled effort.
Further goals could have come, with Garnacho misplacing a lay-off to McNeill and later pulling a shot wide of the left post after another pinpoint Hansen-Aaroen throughball.
McNeill topped off a fine night for Travis Binnion's Under-18s by wrapping up the game with a goal right at the end. Garnacho's left-footed strike on the half-volley was parried out by Arinbjornsson and McNeill gratefully tapped home.
UNITED: Vitek; Jurado, Bennett (c), Fredricson, Murray; Mainoo, Gore; Mather (Oyedele 63), Hansen-Aaroen (Forson 91), Garnacho; McNeill (Hugill 91).
Goals: McNeill 16, Garnacho 59, McNeill 89.
Wolves: Arinbjornsson; Lembikisa, Kandola (Farmer 63), Tipton (c), Huber, Keto-Diyawa, Birtwistle (Esen 76), Griffiths, Fraser, Rees (Kaleta 75), Roberts.