Under-23s put Chelsea to the sword
Manchester United’s Under-23s pocketed maximum points after overcoming Chelsea 4-2 in another terrific action-packed contest at Leigh Sports Village Stadium on Friday evening.
Goals have been plentiful for the Reds this season and United grabbed four with Shola Shoretire getting a couple, along with further strikes from Amad and Mark Helm.
Games against Chelsea are never dull and this one didn’t take long to deliver some talking points.
Just six minutes had ticked by when a long ball forward from Chelsea’s Xavier Mbuyamba found team-mate Myles Peart-Harris in acres of room and he raced forward to put his side in front despite the attentions of United’s Brandon Williams, who got a strong foot to the ball but inadvertently poked it past a helpless Nathan Bishop.
The visitors had started impressively, but in the 15th minute, their promising opening was dealt a blow when goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom was sent off after handling the ball outside his area. George Nunn was the player to be sacrificed to enable substitute keeper Etan Wady to take over from Bergstrom.
Chelsea had looked comfortable but instantly they were forced to alter their plans and United were now charged with finding a route past a five-man defence.
Unbelievably, by the time referee Aaron Jackson had blown his whistle to signal the close of the first period, United were not only level, but in front.
And it was Shoretire, with two splendid goals, who was responsible for turning the game on its head.
His first, in the 45th minute, was just rewards for a terrific piece of skill which saw him wriggle into space before scoring on the turn.
It was an incredible transformation, although not completely unexpected with Chelsea’s depleted personnel.
With the Reds in front, the second period was a much more relaxed affair, as Neil Wood’s side comfortably kept possession and regularly produced shots on goal.
Williams and Amad went close before the hour mark with the Blues struggling to contain United’s fluid movement in the final third of the pitch.
Midway through the second half and Hannibal was given the chance to extend United’s lead from the penalty-spot after Shoretire had been clumsily felled by Timo Livramento, but Wady, Chelsea’s American keeper, made a terrific one-handed save.
Five minutes later and United succeeded in finding a third goal when Amad beat Wady from the edge of the area with a masterful curling free-kick.
It really was a sublime left-footed strike from the Ivorian and put to rest any hopes of a Chelsea comeback.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, the Reds rounded off a highly satisfactory performance with a fourth goal, set-up by Martin Svidersky and scored by Helm.
Substitute Henry Lawrence then netted a consolation in added-on time from a rare foray forward from the London side.
United: Bishop; Wellens, Fish, Devine, Williams (Fernandez 78); Helm, McCann; Shoretire (Svidersky 78), Hannibal, Amad; Elanga.
Substitutes not used: Mastny, Hoogewerf, Savage.
Goalscorers: Shoretire 45, 45+5, Amad 70, Helm 81.