Under-18s: Reds enjoy big win at Birmingham
Manchester United’s youngsters beat Birmingham City 8-2 in a pulsating Under-18 Premier League Cup clash clash at Trillion Trophy Training Centre, thanks to a pair of hat-tricks from Alejandro Garnacho and Mani Norkett. Sam Mather and Malachi Sharpe were also on the scoresheet.
Travis Binnion’s side opened the scoring after 13 minutes through a deflected strike from Mather on the edge of the area, before Birmingham quickly hit back as their captain Kieran Wakefield finished from close range.
Norkett struck twice in quick succession to put United 3-1 up, before a breathtaking first-half display from our young Reds was capped off by Garnacho’s fierce free-kick on 36 minutes.
Birmingham pulled a goal back early in the second half as Manton squeezed the ball past Eric Hanbury. The Reds then displayed a ruthless streak to clinch victory with Garnacho scoring twice to complete his hat-trick. Sharpe’s calm finish and Norkett’s header for his third goal completed the 8-2 victory in the closing stages.
Both sides started the game in a fast-paced fashion but the Reds’ high pressing and impressive work-rate, which was a feature of our play throughout, contributed to the first goal after 13 minutes. The highly-influential Kobbie Mainoo capitalised on a loose ball and evaded his marker with a smart turn to find Mather, whose deflected shot from the edge of the area wrong-footed Birmingham’s goalkeeper Kobi Brooks.
Just minutes later, the Blues equalised when Brandon Khela threaded a through ball to Harry Manton, whose low cross found Wakefield for a simple finish. After that, a shot from Birmingham's Jobe Bellingham - brother of England star Jude - hit the side netting before the Reds scored a further three times. Norkett slotted home inside the penalty area from Gore’s smart pass, despite several challenges from ther opposition’s backline.
Not long after Birmingham restarted play, Rhys Bennett cleared George Hall's goal-bound effort off the line and the ball fell kindly to Mainoo, he swept it forward towards Norkett and our no.9 side-stepped Birmingham's onrushing keeper Brooks to finish into an empty net.
As we entered the final 10 minutes of the first period, Binnion’s team won a free-kick, as Mainoo’s drive forward found Garnacho, who was fouled just outside the area. The Spaniard stepped up and smashed the ball emphatically past Brooks into the top right-hand corner.
The second half continued at the same pace and it was the home side who managed to pull a goal back early on, as Manton followed up his assist with an effort that squeezed underneath United’s goalkeeper Hanbury. Our youngsters nearly hit back straight away through Garnacho on two occasions. His first effort curled narrowly wide, before a powerful run from Mather found Garnacho but he was unfortunate to see his effort flash over the crossbar, with Brooks closing down the angle.
After the hour mark, Hanbury produced a fine save with his right foot to deny full-back Callum Sullivan from close-range. On 73 minutes, United put the game beyond Birmingham’s reach as Mather took advantage of Chris Ogre’s slip in midfield, finding Garnacho in acres of space, who produced a composed side-footed finish to make it 5-2. Two minutes later, Garnacho completed a stunning hat-trick; collecting the ball in midfield and surging past several opposing players, before stroking the ball low into the net.
As we entered the final 10 minutes, another of United’s lively attackers registered our seventh goal of a breathtaking cup tie. Mather’s defence-splitting pass put Sharpe through on goal and the winger made no mistake, slotting the ball past the helpless Brooks.
The Blues came close to a consolation goal during the closing stages, but Rico Patterson was unlucky to see his long-range effort clip the outside of the post before going out of play for a goal-kick. One minute from time, Mather struck the bar from Garnacho’s pinpoint cross, but Norkett was alive to the situation and he buried a header for his hat-trick and United’s final goal of a memorable trip to the Trillion Trophy Training Centre.
United: Hanbury;Jurado, Bennett, Fredricson, Murray; Gore (Kambwala 70), Mainoo (Aljofree 76); Sharpe, Garnacho, Mather; Norkett.
Subs not used: Myles, Nolan, McAllister.
Goals: Birmingham - Wakefield 15, Manton 50 | United - Mather 13, Norkett 21, 23, 89, Garnacho 36, 73, 75, Sharpe 81.