Manchester United’s Under-21s put in a fantastic performance tonight to beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Old Trafford.
The squad was bolstered by the return of striker James Wilson who was on the bench for the first team against Newcastle last weekend to provide a focal point to the attack. The squad was also strengthened in defence as Jonny Evans joined the youngsters as he looked to gain important game time ahead of the end of season run in.
It was a dominant performance from the Reds. Saidy Janko, who saw a lot of the ball this evening, almost created an early opening for Wilson but there wasn’t enough pace on the ball for it to reach the striker. Janko created another move forward and passed into Wilson but he was closed down quickly.
Charni Ekangamene, who played in a more dynamic box-to-box role in the midfield, also had a chance after Ben Pearson pulled the defenders away but his shot went wide.
When the breakthrough came in the 27th minute, it was inevitably scored by Wilson. Pearson picked out his fellow England Under-19 team-mate and Wilson did well to beat a Villa defender before sending a beautiful left-footed strike into the top corner of Bradley Watkins goal.
Just four minutes later, United doubled the lead. This time Ekangamene passed to Janko who found Rothwell just outside the box. It was a stunning finish from Rothwell as he bent his strike out and back in to slot in the correct side of the post.
United were looking rampant. Wilson ran onto a through ball from Andreas Pereira. He beat Watkins but a deflection saw him pulled out wide. He still took the shot on, even though the angle was tight but was denied by a block on the near post.
There was a shot from Reece James which was saved by the keeper. Villa then enjoyed a brief spell where they threatened but Amos was equal to their efforts. Shortly before half-time Pereira ignored a call from Rothwell to shoot over the crossbar and Janko also fired across the face of goal but at such a speed no one could get on the end of it.
In the second half, Janko capped off a top performance with a powerful finish. He won a header to free Guillermo Varela and then smashed home when the ball was played back to him.
Villa’s goalkeeper Bradley Watkins did his best to keep the scoreline respectable. It looked like Rothwell might grab a second goal after a great run from Pearson created an opening but the Watkins managed to make the save.
The ever-impressive Wilson drilled a fierce shot narrowly off target. He then forced Watkins into making a fantastic save as another effort seemed destined for the back of the net before the keeper’s intervention.
Evans was withdrawn in the 65th minute after a comfortable return. The centre-back later admitted to MUTV that he does not know if he will be involved against Bayern Munich and said it is “touch and go”.
Wilson made way ten minutes later, leaving United without a recognised striker on the pitch. Villa almost scored a late consolation but somehow managed to miss from roughly a foot out but United claimed a well deserved clean sheet after a solid display at the back.
Manchester United: Amos, Varela, McNair, J. Evans (Love 65′), R. James, Janko, Ekangamene (Rudge 81′), Pearson, Rothwell, A. Pereira, Wilson (Rowley 78′)
Unused Substitutes: Gollini, Harrop.
Bookings: Pearson, Janko.