Rangnick watches U18s secure FA Youth Cup semi-final spot
Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick watched on at Old Trafford as our Under-18s side secured a place in the FA Youth Cup semi-final with a 2-1 victory over Leicester City.
Alejandro Garnacho proved the hero of the match with two fantastic goals to down Leicester in front of 3,984 fans at the Theatre of Dreams.
Travis Binnion's young Reds will now play either Wolves or Brighton, who face each other on Saturday, in the semi-final.
United into FA Youth Cup semi-finalGallery
A fantastic Garnacho double seals a 2-1 win over Leicester...
The Foxes took a 29th-minute lead through Welsh forward Chris Popov, who shifted Joe Wormleighton's pass from his right foot to left before finishing past Radek Vitek.
United grew into the game after a slow start and excelled in the latter stages of the first half. Dan Gore's impressive footwork drew a foul on the edge of Leicester's penalty area and Garnacho scored from the resulting free-kick, directing a curling shot into the bottom left corner.
A frenetic start to the second half followed. Charlie McNeill worked a chance with a one-two with Garnacho and saw Arlo Doherty make an excellent left-handed save. Minutes later, Leicester countered quickly following sustained pressure from United and forced several saves in quick succession from Vitek.
Garnacho, Mainoo, McNeill and Mather all tested the goalkeeper before the hour-mark, while Hansen shot just over the bar and McNeill later struck the sidenetting with a powerful effort.
Time ticked on and both sides made changes, but the flow of the game stayed in United's favour as Doherty and his Foxes defence continued to work hard to keep the Reds out.
With only a minute of normal time remaining, Garnacho doubled his and United's tally and secured our place in the semi-finals. Kobbie Mainoo's close ball control and composure in tight spaces stood out throughout and he picked out Garnacho in space on the left side of the area. The Spanish winger finished powerfully past Doherty before celebrating in Cristiano Ronaldo-style in front of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.
Rangnick was watching on throughout, while the majority of the United Under-23s set up was in attendance too. Behind them sat many of the Academy's other youth sides who eagerly celebrated the victory.
While it's a night of celebration for our Under-18s and there'll be excitement ahead of the semi-final, focus will quickly turn onto another knock-out competition. Our Under-19s host Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Youth League round of 16 at Leigh Sports Village on 1 March (20:00 GMT kick-off).
Rangnick outlined his intentions to watch that game too earlier this week. He said, "Hopefully, I will be able to watch both games. It's a great experience for those boys and, as I said, it's also the future of our club."
UNITED: Vitek; Jurado, Bennett (c), Fredricson, Murray; Gore, Mainoo; Mather (Norkett 81), Hansen (Oyedele 66), Garnacho (Aljofree 90); McNeill.
Unused subs: Wooster, Sharpe, Lawrence, Ennis.
Goal(s): Garnacho 41, 89.
Leicester: Doherty, Nelson (Grist 81), Lindsay, Braybrooke (c), Godsmark Ford, Wilson-Brown, Cartwright (Cover 77), Popov, Booth (Butterfill 65), Alves.
Unused subs: Grist, Chibueze, Kutshienza, Cover, Butterfill, Briggs.
Goal(s): Popov 29.