Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Manchester United vs. Sunderland
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Monday, 15 September 2014
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
The opponent tonight was Sunderland, where the U21s dominated the first half proceedings, before easing up after the interval, adding just one more goal to their tally.
First teamers Anderson, Luke Shaw and Adnan Januzaj were given an outing, with the latter bagging a hat-trick in a virtuoso performance.
Andreas Pereira grabbed the other goal – the second of the evening – as three goals inside seven first half minutes set United on their way.
Another similarity to yesterday was the formation, with Warren Joyce opting for the diamond in midfield and four at the back, in a bid to match that of the first team, in the hope that this will enhance the development of these talented youngsters.
Less than two minutes on the clock and Anderson’s through ball allowed Januzaj to burst past the Sunderland defence through the left-hand channel, only for his effort from a tight angle to ripple the side netting.
Saidy Janko’s cross allowed Will Keane to tee up Anderson, but his tame effort became tamer as the ball hit the boot of Andrew Cartwright to take any pace off the ball and fall safely into the hands of Maksymilian Stryjek.
Januzaj had a shot blocked before Janko saw his shot fly wide of the post after good build up play from Anderson and Pereira.
The opening goal of the night came courtesy from the resulting goal kick as Stryjek’s kick fell straight to Januzaj, who played a one-two with Keane, before slotting the ball home first time underneath the rueful keeper.
A brilliant tackle from Anderson tracking back began the move for the second goal as he passed the ball to captain Tom Thorpe, who found Josh Harrop, who found Shaw, and the 19-year-old’s cross found Pereira inside the 18 yard box, who took one touch to control with his right foot, before lashing home with his left, as United doubled their lead just three minutes after the opener.
Two soon became three as Shaw’s long ball into the left-hand channel found Keane, who laid it to Januzaj, before the Belgian shifted onto his weaker side, and calmly finished into the bottom corner.
United looked hungry for more as Pereira’s dinked pass out to the right-hand touchline found Janko, whose pull back found Januzaj, who expertly dragged the ball back, before unleashing a curling left footed effort that fell just wide of Stryjek’s right-hand post.
The arrogance of Januzaj saw him nutmeg Cartwright inside the box, before finding the side netting for the second time in the match, when perhaps he should have opted to pick out Keane who was left unmarked in the middle.
Stoppage time at the end of the first half and Ben Amos was called into action for the first time, producing a fine save from Duncan Watmore’s close range effort.
Januzaj, in search of a deserved hat-trick, had a right foot effort deflected wide early in the second half before Keane’s header looped over the bar after Januzaj latched onto Pereira’s chip inside the penalty area in order to set up United’s number nine.
Amos was called into action by the same man that he stopped at the end of the first half, denying Watmore once more, with a fine save as he made himself look big as he closed down Sunderland’s right winger.
Anderson was unlucky to only find the post with a decent curling effort just after the hour mark before the Black Cats captain Liam Agnew blazed over at the other end.
David Ferguson did well to turn a Januzaj cross behind for a corner; Lynden Gooch’s effort flew high and wide of Amos’ goal before Januzaj saw a shot held, as an even second period began to fizzle out.
But just as Sunderland looked like drawing the second half and restoring some credibility, Januzaj completed his hat-trick in the 82nd minute.
After Shaw’s departure at half-time, Marnick Vermijl switched from centre-back to left-back, allowing him the freedom to roam forward, and he linked up expertly with his fellow Belgian, playing a neat one-two that saw Vermijl enter the box, before his pull back was met by Januzaj sliding in, with the ball coming off the outside of his left boot, to seal a memorable night for him personally.
Less than a year ago, Januzaj marked his first start for United’s first team with a brace away at the Stadium of Light as the Red Devils recovered from a goal down to win 1-2, and he went one better tonight, as his hat-trick maintained United’s unbeaten start to the season.
With Messrs Giggs and Van Gaal watching on from the side-lines, none of the United team did themselves any harm, as they aimed to impress the first team set up.
Both sides face Tottenham in their next game. Sunderland host the North London outfit next week, whilst United travel to the Lamex Stadium – home of Stevenage – in two weeks’ time, as they aim to continue their fine form at this level.
Manchester United: Amos; Janko, McNair, Vermijl, Shaw (Pearson 46); Thorpe, Harrop, Anderson (Rothwell 72), A. Pereira; Januzaj (Weir 83), W. Keane.
Subs: Pearson, O’Hara, Rothwell, Grimshaw, Weir.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Sunderland: Stryjek; Cartwright, McNamee, Ferguson, T. Robson; Agnew; Smith (Oliver 65), Lawson; Watmore, Gooch (Pybus 83), Greenwood (E. Robson 65).
Subs: Oliver, Dixon, E. Robson, Sukar, Pybus.