Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Manchester United vs. Norwich City
Venue: Leigh Sports Village
Date: Friday, 15 August 2014
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
Manchester United’s Under-21s began their Premier League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Norwich City.
Tom Lawrence, Paddy McNair and Josh Harrop grabbed the headlines with the goals, but it was an all-round terrific team performance that allowed the win to be obtained.
The opening chance of the game fell United’s way, and what a golden opportunity it was.
A free-kick on the right-hand side was awarded to Saidy Janko, whose shirt was being tugged, and Andreas Pereira’s whipped delivery was smashed onto the bar by the onrushing McNair, as the Canaries survived an early scare.
They didn’t survive long, however.
Joe Rothwell tip-toed his way inside the Norwich box, and received the ball back from Lawrence’s back-heel, before shifting the ball onto his left foot and producing a decent shot that Ben Killip could only parry into the path of Lawrence, who was left with the easiest of tap-ins.
Rothwell nearly bagged a goal for himself, but his first time effort from Pereira’s ball fell wide of Killip’s left-hand post.
Guillermo Varela’s overlapping run was noticed by Janko, who fed the Uruguyan down the right-hand side, and his pass found Lawrence inside the box, and his sharp turn allowed him to force a fine save from Killip from his left-foot shot.
The resulting corner was taken short by Pereira to Ben Pearson, and his delightful cross was powered home by McNair to make it 2-0 to United.
A chance apiece in the space of two minutes as Rothwell saw his shot closed down and saved before Joel Pereira was called into action for the first time in the match, but was left untroubled by Jacob Murphy’s long range shot, catching the ball comfortably.
Into the second half and Pereira saw a tame free-kick held with ease, put he threatened more with a first time effort from Janko’s pull back, only to see his powerful shot blocked behind for a corner.
United’s slick pass-and-move football mirrored that of the first team during pre-season, but clear cut chances were few and far between.
Norwich offered little in terms of attacking threat, but at the same time restricted United to possession far from their goal, as a lull broke out at Leigh Sports Village.
It took until the 77th minute for United to wrap up the points, but it was well worth the wait.
Tight passing around the 18 yard box saw some scintillating football produced by the youngsters in Red.
Lawrence to Janko, to Harrop, to Rothwell, back to Harrop, whose first time shot with his weaker left foot ended up in the back of the net – his first under-21 goal on his full debut.
After throwing away a two goal lead against the same opposition at the back end of last season, Warren Joyce would’ve been pleased that his side could put the game to bed with just under a quarter of an hour remaining.
Little action happened after the third goal, leaving United as runaway winners.
A comprehensive win: three goals, clean sheet, no injuries, and the Red Devils barely breaking out of third gear.
A trip to Anfield awaits this time next week, with United looking to build on an excellent performance first up in the Barclays under-21 Premier League.
Manchester United: J. Pereira; McNair, Thorpe (McConnell 87), Goss (C. Evans 46); Janko, Rothwell (Weir 78), Pearson, Varela; A. Pereira, Harrop; Lawrence.
Subs: O’Hara, Weir, C. Evans, Willock, McConnell.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Norwich City: Killip; Efete, McFadden, Gafaiti, Toffolo (King 73); Ja. Murphy, McGeehan, Hall-Johnson, Awuah (Fox 82); Kelly, Simpson (Couzens 76).
Subs: King, Beauchamp, Fox, Byrne-Hewitt, Couzens.