Spanish lesson for young Reds
Manchester United slipped to a 4-1 defeat to Villarreal in the UEFA Youth League.
First-half goals by Joan Torrents, Pascual Medina, Marlone Foubert and Rodrigo Alonso stunned the home crowd at Leigh Sports Village and left the Reds facing a heavy defeat to follow up the opening Group F win at Young Boys.
The challenge must have been to win the second half, and the boys achieved this, thanks to a header by Alvaro Fernandez.
Villarreal dominated possession from the first whistle and soon went in front, with only five minutes on the clock. A through ball was allowed to find Medina and, although his effort came back off a post, Torrents was on hand to supply a simple finish into the unguarded net.
United created a moment of danger when skipper Shola Shoretire fed Marc Jurado out wide but the right-back's inviting cross evaded everybody in the middle.
The visitors hit the woodwork for a second time, through a cross by Rodrigo Alonso and, again, a yellow shirt was in the right place at the right time, with tall centre-forward Medina converting the rebound. Shoretire picked up a yellow card for a foul and, from the free-kick by Antonio Pacheco, defender Marlone Foubert stretched to divert the ball past Radek Vitek and further extend the lead.
Fernandez did work keeper Filip Jorgensen as the half wore on but a cleverly executed volley by Alonso rubbed salt in the wounds in stoppage time before the break.
United saw more of the ball in the second half and made life much more difficult for the Spaniards.
Although Torrents managed one effort over the bar, chances started to arrive at the other end with centre-back Willy Kambwala off target from an Alejandro Garnacho corner.
Neil Wood made a triple substitution, with Rhys Bennett, Zidane Iqbal and Sam Mather entering the fray and the Reds pulled a goal back in the 72nd minute. Jurado's free-kick was met emphatically by Fernandez in the middle to provide something for the supporters to cheer.
With Fernandez firing a free-kick over the top, there was no further addition to the scoreline as Kobbie Mainoo and Daniel Gore also came off the bench to gain some experience at this level.
Elsewhere in the group, our next opponents in the competition, Atalanta, beat Young Boys 3-0.
MATCH DETAILSUnited: Vitek; Jurado, Kambwala (Bennett 59), Hardley, Fernandez; Svidersky (Mainoo 76), Savage (Gore 76); Hoogewerf (Mather 59), Shoretire (c), Garnacho; Hugill (Iqbal 59).
Subs not used: Hanbury, Murray.
Scorers: Fernandez 72 | Torrents 5, Medina 22, Foubert 28, Alonso 45.