Three first-half goals, scored by D’Mani Mellor, Di’Shon Bernard and Brandon Williams, were enough to give Neil Ryan’s side a fine win over Chelsea in Under-18 Premier League Cup at the Aon Training Complex.
United wouldn’t normally be entertaining Chelsea at this level because the Academy League is regionalised, but the teams were meeting this morning in the League Cup competition which, of course, can throw any teams together through the draw system. This match was also a dress rehearsal for the eagerly awaited clash between the clubs in the FA Youth Cup third round on Monday week at Leigh Sports Village Stadium.
Both United and Chelsea looked determined not to concede anything in the early moments but, with under 12 minutes on the clock, United delivered the first blow when Mellor, playing alongside Mason Greenwood at the point of United’s attack, scored to put his team into the lead, pouncing on a poor backpass to steer home.
It was just the boost United needed and, 10 minutes later, we strengthened our position when Bernard got above the Chelsea defence to head home the second goal from Arnau Puigmal’s clever free-kick, the ball flicking Greenwood on its way into the net. Two minutes from half-time, United added a third, thanks to full-back Williams’s precise finish with his right foot from Greenwood’s inch-perfect pass.
Three-nil to the good at half-time is a scoreline that surely few people could have predicted but, overall, the Reds were pretty good value for this commanding lead.
Early in the second half, a terrific three-man move involving Greenwood, Mellor and Aliou Traore ended with the latter blazing his shot over the bar. Moments later, and the same player was close to scoring again when his hooked shot ended up on the roof of the net.
The bright weather had given way to gloom and drizzle, but that did nothing to change the flow of the game which had provided some fine entertainment for the regulars dotted along the touchline and in the mini-stands.
United keeper James Thompson ensured a clean sheet when he made a brave diving save to deny Chelsea’s Henry Lawrence. Greenwood could have claimed a late fourth but he drilled wide after some mesmerising footwork and then had another attempt deflected out for a corner as Ryan's side finished the tie on the front foot. So United are safely through as group winners, with nine points from three matches, while Chelsea must wait to see if they are one of the best second-placed sides.
United: Thompson; Puigmal, Bernard, Garner, B. Williams (Devine 87); Galbraith (Ramazani 63), Traore, Levitt, McCann (Stanley 86); Mellor, Greenwood.
Substitutes not used: Carney, Bejger.
Manchester United 3 Chelsea 0 | Scorers: Mellor 12, Bernard 21, B. Williams 43
The two teams meet again in the FA Youth Cup third round on Monday 17 December at Leigh Sports Village, kick-off 19:00 GMT. The big game is live on MUTV, with Chelsea, the holders, likely to field a different-looking line-up.Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.