U23s: Amad and Hugill inspire big win at Liverpool
Amad Diallo made a spectacular start to his Manchester United career when he grabbed an early goal and went on to claim another from the penalty spot to put our Under-23s on the road to a thrilling 6-3 victory away at Liverpool on Saturday afternoon.
It was terrific debut for the 18-year-old Ivory Coast-born winger who was transferred from Italian club Atalanta earlier in the season. And it was also a day of celebration for striker Joe Hugill who bagged four goals, including a 15-minute second-half hat-trick.
The first real chance of the game arrived in the fifth minute when a lapse in United’s defence allowed Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn a clear shot at goal but goalkeeper Matej Kovar came to the rescue with a terrific save.
It was an early test for United’s custodian and he had to be alert in the minutes that followed as the home side continued to carry a threat with both Woodburn and Tyler Morton going close.
Liverpool were looking the more dangerous in front of goal, but in the 14th minute a United attack proved decisive. And it was new-boy Amad who was celebrating his first goal for the club with a smart finish after robbing the ball from Liverpool defender Billy Koumetio.
Most certainly, it was a goal against the flow of the game but it proved to be the boost United needed as we gradually increased the time we were spending in Liverpool’s half of the field. And 10 minutes after Amad had scored the opener, the lead was doubled when a fine move involving Hannibal and Arnau Puigmal set Hugill on his way to shooting past Liverpool goalkeeper Marcelo Pitaluga.
It was a remarkable transformation in the space of just 10 minutes, but Liverpool were not about to collapse and they proceeded to force their way back with two goals before half-time. It was 2-1 in the 34th minute after Morton pounced when United failed to clear our lines. And they were level two minutes before the break after more lapse defending allowed Luis Longstaff to tap home from close range.
This match between these great rivals looked finely balanced, but the second period most definitely belonged to United who ran riot to score four further goals in just 19 minutes. Ex-Sunderland striker Hugill regained the lead by angling his finish home, 11 minutes into the half, to cap a fine move involving Amad and Alvaro Fernandez.
Hugill calmly completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot, after Hannibal's burst was interrupted by a foul inside the box, and the centre-forward grabbed his fourth a few moments later with another predatory strike after great pressing by Shola Shoretire.
Amad book-ended Hugill’s haul with his second of the game – a Panenka penalty, again earned by Hannibal - to seal easily the most impressive performance of the campaign for Neil Wood’s lads.
Liverpool’s Joe Hardy pulled one back seven minutes from time, but, by then, United had already firmly secured maximum points from a hugely entertaining match on Merseyside and one that avenged the 5-3 home loss to our rivals in another high-scoring game at the beginning of the campaign.
United: Kovar; Williams (McCann 68), Fish (Neville 46), Devine, Fernandez; Galbraith, Shoretire, Puigmal; Amad; Hugill (Helm 79), Hannibal.
Subs not used: Mastny, Stanley.
Goals: Morton 34, Longstaff 43, Hardy 83 | Amad 14, 74 (pen), Hugill 24, 56, 65 (pen), 71