Manchester United's Under-18s made it two wins from two games in the Premier League Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win against Norwich City at the Colney Training Ground on Saturday.
After both teams observed a minute's silence before kick-off ahead of Remembrance Sunday, the game got under way and, within five minutes of referee Ollie Sanders’ first whistle, the Reds were in the lead.
It was little surprise that the early strike came from the trusted left boot of in-form striker Mason Greenwood. The goal followed a promising attack, orchestrated by Largie Ramazani, which had the Norwich defence scrambling back. When the ball arrived into the feet of Greenwood, he feinted right and then left before stroking his shot calmly past the keeper into the bottom corner.
The early breakthrough suggested it could be a symbolic opening of the floodgates for United, but the Canaries had other ideas and slowly grew in confidence as they eased their way into the contest. Indeed, only excellent goalkeeping from United’s James Thompson and wayward finishing from the home side saw United’s lead preserved.
Then, against the flow of the game, Greenwood broke forward from near the halfway line and, chased by four Norwich defenders, he managed to outsprint them all before seeing his shot come back off the foot of the post.
Just before the break, United had Thompson to thank again as the keeper made a courageous save to prevent Anis Mehmeti, Norwich’s outstanding player during their resurgence, from grabbing an equaliser by parrying the ball behind for a corner.
The home side improved as time wore on, but all their good work was undone seconds before the half-time whistle when Greenwood was allowed to race upfield before doubling his tally with an cool finish over the diving keeper Daniel Barden.
Following an extremely short half-time break, of nine minutes, the teams were back in action and United made a change as D’Mani Mellor replaced Aliou Traore, who had suffered a knock in the early stages of the game.
Norwich opened the second period with a spring in their step and, with more good fortune in front of goal, they could have reduced the arrears. Mehmeti went close with a shot and, shortly afterwards, Spencer Keller was inches away from finding the net when his close-range attempt struck the post before Thompson swooped to snuff out the danger.
Norwich suffered a major blow on the hour mark when keeper Barden was injured in a collision with Greenwood and, after treatment, he was forced to leave the field and was replaced by Anthonius Berkeley, who is listed in the Canaries’ Academy as a defender.
United continued to look dangerous and added the third goal in the 77th minute as Greenwood turned provider this time by feeding the ball into the path of Arnau Puigmal, who rifled in his second goal of the season.
Ramazani also had the ball in the net late on but the assistant referee's flag saw his celebrations cut short.
Nevertheless, the young Reds made it back-to-back wins in the Premier League Cup - after beating Newcastle United 1-0 at the Aon Training Complex back in September - with a job well done on a blustery morning in East Anglia.
Premier League Cup Group F | Colney Training Ground | Scorers: Greenwood 5, 45, Puigmal 77
United: Thompson; Puigmal, B. Williams (c), Hockenhull, Devine; Levitt, Traore (Mellor 46); McGhee, Galbraith (McCann 82), Ramazani; Greenwood (Stanley 89).
Substitutes not used: Carney, Helm.
The young Reds are not in action again for a fortnight, when local rivals Manchester City visit the Aon Training Complex on Saturday 24 November. Kick-off will be at 11:00 GMT and you will be able to watch the derby encounter live on MUTV.
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