Manchester United’s Under-19s made it two wins out of two in the UEFA Youth League with a dominant 4-0 victory over Valencia at Leigh Sports Village on Tuesday afternoon.
Goals from Josh Bohui, the in-form Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and substitute Millen Baars sealed a comfortable win which leaves the young Reds at the top of Group H on goal difference, after Juventus beat Young Boys 2-1 in their second match earlier in the day. Meanwhile, it’s back-to-back defeats for Valencia after a 1-0 loss at home to Juventus in their opening match.
United coach Nicky Butt made just one change to the team that came from behind to beat Young Boys 2-1 in Bern as Luca Ercolani came into the defence in place of George Tanner, who was forced off through injury against the Swiss side a fortnight ago.
It was almost the perfect start for the Reds inside the first minute when captain Angel Gomes, who scored the winner against Young Boys from the penalty spot last time out, went on a mazy run through the middle and unleashed a powerful right-footed effort from 20 yards, which was comfortably claimed by Valencia’s debutant goalkeeper Guillermo Rodriguez.
The hosts’ bright opening to proceedings continued and, in the fifth minute, Chong’s free-kick from the right wing was spilled by Rodriguez back into the danger area but Jesus Vazquez scrambled the ball away before a red-shirted player could pounce. At the other end, Matej Kovar was called into action for the first time five minutes later, keeping out a downward header from Pablo Jimenez with his feet after Valencia’s no.11 latched onto a fine cross to the back post by Carlos Badal.
U19s: United 4 Valencia 0 Gallery
Take a look at the best images from our UEFA Youth League win.
The visitors struggled to contain United’s lively attacking talent from the outset, which was evident in the number of fouls they committed. Valencia captain Hugo Guillamon was the first visiting player booked by Finnish referee Ville Nevalainen inside 12 minutes for cynically upending Chong.
Valencia, wearing their traditional all-white strip, worked their way into the game with prolonged spells of possession and began to test the United defence, which remained firm to prevent the Spaniards from having any real sights of Kovar’s goal in the opening 45 minutes.
But, just as the visitors had settled into the match, Butt’s side broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark when Bohui found the bottom corner with a tidy finish from 10 yards, after good work from Chong down the right flank, to open his UEFA Youth League account for the season.
Greenwood, whose new contract was announced after the game, almost netted a spectacular second goal on his left foot from outside the box but it whistled inches wide of the post. Ercolani also went close with a header from a Gomes corner which drifted beyond Rodriguez’s left-hand post as the young Reds, who were good value for the half-time advantage, ended the first period strongly.
Valencia introduced Jose David Menargues for Jose Pascual Alba Seva at the interval but they found themselves 2-0 down inside the first five minutes of the second half as the irrepressible Greenwood rifled home his 10th goal of the season already, after a fine cutback from the impressive Ethan Laird, who did superbly well to create the opportunity.
Shortly after James Garner was booked for a late challenge on Valencia’s 15-year-old left-back Vazquez, it got better for Butt’s side just after the hour mark. Chong latched on to a through-ball from Aidan Barlow, after he had played a neat one-two with Gomes, and fired into the roof of the net past the exposed Rodriguez to deservedly increase United’s advantage.
Butt sent on Baars and Arnau Puigmal for the final 20 minutes, in place of Chong and Barlow, and also gave some game-time to Dylan Levitt and Brandon Williams from the bench as the Reds continued to boss proceedings.
Two of the substitutes combined for United’s fourth with seven minutes to go as Puigmal accelerated down the right flank and cut the ball back to Baars, who stroked home his first UEFA Youth League goal from 12 yards.
Miguel Angel Mista’s Spanish visitors, who rarely threatened throughout, almost pulled one back in the 89th minute when Jordi Escobar’s shot was spilled by Kovar but the Czech keeper managed to recover in time to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line.
The Reds’ encouraging display would have certainly impressed Under-23s coach Ricky Sbragia and first-team midfielder Ander Herrera, who were watching in the crowd at Leigh Sports Village. The convincing win puts Butt’s team in a perfect position heading into two testing fixtures against Juventus, who also have a 100 per cent record after two matches.
United: Kovar; Laird (B. Williams 75’), Ercolani, Bernard, O’Connor; Barlow (Baars 70’), Garner, Gomes (c) (Levitt 75’); Chong (Puigmal 70’), Greenwood, Bohui (Traore 62’). Subs not used: Fojticek, Mellor.
Scorers: Bohui 29, Greenwood 50, Chong 61, Baars 83.
Like the first team, United’s youngsters have a double header against Juventus coming up in the UEFA Youth League, at home on 23 October and away on 7 November.
You can watch the highlights from the game on MUTV tonight (Tuesday) at 23:00 BST.