James Wilson, the four goal hero of the Manchester Senior Cup earlier this season, returned to the starting line-up following bouts of both illness and injury. Meanwhile, Andreas Pereira missed out having joined up with the u20 Brazilian squad.
Despite an early scare when Tyler Blackett found himself badly positioned, within five minutes Wilson gave United the lead. Adnan Januzaj, who started his sixth consecutive U21s match, played a fantastic through ball to the potent striker who finished past the City goalkeeper, Angus Gunn.
Joe Rothwell had a decent chance to double the scoring after a good run to claim the ball ahead of the City defenders. Rothwell went for an attempted curled toe poke but it swung well wide of the goal.
On loan defender, Andy Kellett, also had a chance coming in from the left flank but he chose to shoot rather than pass and his effort was well wide. However, towards the middle of the first half the Reds seemed content to sit back and had large spells without any United player in City’s half of the pitch.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first with United scoring an early goal. Rothwell won the ball and went on a good run. He picked out Januzaj who came inside across the face of goal and scored with a bit of help from a slight deflection to claim his 5th goal at U21s level this season.
Joel Pereira was on hand to make a couple of decent saves and Thorpe’s positioning also helped cut out opportunities for City. Januzaj and Rothwell made way with around 15 minutes remaining in the match and were replaced by Ashley Fletcher and Matty Willock respectively. Both substitutes used their time on the pitch to make an impact.
Wilson linked up with Fletcher up front, reigniting a partnership from their u18 days. Wilson picked out Fletcher in the City penalty area and he finished smartly. That goal was Fletcher’s second at u21 level and his second goal in two consecutive appearances.
Then it was Willock’s time to shine with arguably the best finish of the night, as he took on his shot from just outside the penalty area. It was Willock’s first goal at U21s level.
That convincing win means that United just need 1 point to guarantee the u21 Barclays Premier League title and depending on other results that point may not be needed. The next game is away against City, however, the date and venue have yet to be decided.
Manchester United: J. Pereira, Love, Thorpe (c), Blackett, Kellett, Weir, Grimshaw, James, Rothwell (Willock 76′), Januzaj (Fletcher 73′), Wilson (El Fitouri 88′).
Unused substitutes: O’Hara, Reid.
Man of the Match: James Wilson.