Under 23s: United 4 Tottenham 2
Manchester United’s Under-23s shaded a terrific match against Tottenham Hotspur at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday evening.
The teams put on a feast of flowing, classy football, producing a great contest that could have gone either way.
Ultimately, Shola Shoretire’s header, two goals from Arnau Puigmal and a late strike from Anthony Elanga were enough to secure a 4-2 win and give Neil Wood’s side a third successive Premier League 2 victory.
Everyone aims to hit the ground running after the initial blast of the referee’s whistle and that’s what both teams did in a truly breathless opening to the game.
It really shouldn’t have come as a surprise, as United and Spurs have long based their ethos on positive, attractive football, with an emphasis on attack.
The visitors had the ball in the net as early as the third minute, but the referee Adam Herzog spotted an infringement in the build-up.
Instead, it was the Reds who succeeded in opening the scoring, with Facundo Pellistri providing an inch-perfect cross and Shoretire generating a bullet header into the far corner on 13 minutes.
The pattern of the game continued to swing back and forth with both sets of forwards hunting for goals and Spurs grabbed an equaliser shortly after going behind, when Kion Etete slid in to convert Brooklyn Lyons-Foster’s centre.
The game had caught fire nicely and Shoretire was involved once again, as he set up Puigmal to drive home and give the Reds the lead for the second time.
That would have been a decent scoreline to go into the break with, but when Lukasz Bejger played Puigmal through in first-half injury-time, the Spaniard once again scored from a similar position, past Alfie Whiteman in the Spurs’ goal.
Just seven minutes after the game reconvened, Harvey White reduced the arrears, sweeping home Jack Clarke’s cross.
Spurs smelt blood and United had to rely on some smart saves from goalkeeper Paul Woolston, while Will Fish – who saw a shot blocked after a neat one-two with substitute Joe Hugill - needed to be awake to prevent Etete from latching on to a through ball in injury-time and equalising.
While the visitors had a solid argument for leaving with a point, Elanga broke away in the final knockings of the match and placed an angled drive beyond the reach of Whiteman to secure a satisfying victory.
United: Woolston; Bejger, Fish, Mengi (c), Fernandez; Galbraith, Hannibal, Puigmal (Helm 84); Pellistri (Hugill 84), Elanga, Shoretire.
Subs not used: Carney, Devine, McCann.
Booked: Puigmal, Galbraith
Scorers: Shoretire 13, Puigmal 32, 45+2, Elanga 90+3