Barclays Premier League Under-21s Division 1
Manchester United vs. Leicester City
Venue: Leigh Sports Village
Date: Monday, 14 December 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Three goals in each half did the job for United, with Nick Powell and Devonte Redmond bagging a brace apiece.
Captain James Weir and substitute Marcus Rashford also found themselves on the scoresheet, with Harry Panayiotou earning Leicester’s consolation goal.
In the early exchanges Powell’s attempted whipped low cross nearly caught the Leicester defence out as Josh Harrop lurked but they were caught out in United’s next two attacks.
A Sean Goss corner from the right earned another one from the left, and it was from this corner that Powell headed home to give the home side the lead.
Exactly four minutes later, Matty Willock teed up Redmond from 25 yards out, who took a touch to set before firing a fantastic right-footed effort past Dion Henry and into the back of the net.
Another flurry of chances fell the way of Warren Joyce’s side, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah playing a one-two inside the box with Weir, with the former’s left-footed strike curling over the bar.
Powell then tested Henry twice in as many minutes, firstly forcing the goalkeeper into a smart save low to his right, before United’s number nine took aim on his left, but again Henry was on hand to tip the attempt away from danger.
St. Kitts and Nevis international Harry Panayiotou saw a near post effort deflect behind off Joe Riley in a rare Foxes attack, before the scoreline became 3-0 in the 38th minute.
It was Harrop’s initial shot that was parried by Henry, with Weir on hand to tap home the rebound, squeezing the ball in at the near post.
Despite playing at right-back, Fosu-Mensah did brilliantly to win the ball back off Jack Barmby, before setting up Weir, whose shot was blocked before he scuffed the rebound wide.
RoShaun Williams blocked a Panayiotou volley as Axel Tuanzebe did likewise with Jak McCourt’s attempt from range, with Sam Johnstone palming over Barmby’s left-footed effort from range, as half-time arrived with United in cruise control.
It was the Fosu-Mensah show at the beginning of the second half, with his superbly timed through ball reaching Redmond, who rounded Henry before planting the ball into the empty net.
If that was good from Fosu-Mensah, his blistering pace enabled him to breeze past the Leicester defence, before picking out Powell with a pinpoint cross from the right, with Powell obliging to bag his second header of the game.
A slight lapse in concentration after going five up led to Panayiotou tapping home Matt Miles’ cross from close range but the game was far from over at that point.
Another bright run from Fosu-Mensah was his final action as he was forced off with cramp, as Powell surpassed Connor Anderson before his low cross was just out of reach of the sliding substitute Ashley Fletcher.
It was another striking substitute that bagged the sixth, as Powell’s looping pass found Rashford, who held off Alie Sesay, before finding the top corner with a right-footed finish on the turn.
Johnstone produced a good low stop after Keenan King’s effort was deflected before Anderson headed over from a corner.
Goss’ cross found Fletcher, whose touch set himself for the shot, but he blazed over via his left foot, before Goss himself failed to hit the target after Powell’s headed knockdown allowed the midfielder to have a sight of goal.
As he searched for a hat-trick, Powell couldn’t keep his composure, blasting his effort over the bar and being rightly furious with himself, but full-time arrived with a job well done.
With many injuries to the first team, the chances are there for the youngsters to stake a claim, and every single player in red put themselves forward for contention with a first rate performance.
The FA Youth Cup tie against Queens Park Rangers next Tuesday at 7pm in the same venue means that the U21s derby against Manchester City has been postponed, meaning that Tottenham Hotspur at home on Monday 4 January is the next game for this side.
This was only the sixth game out of 22 in the league, having now played Leicester home and away in a bizarre season to date fixture-wise, but 13 points from those games represents a healthy return, as the Reds look to retain their title come May.
Playing like this, that is certainly possible, with the first team surely in reach for some of these talented products.
Manchester United: Johnstone; Fosu-Mensah (Rashford 74), Tuanzebe, Williams, Riley; Willock (Fletcher 79), Goss; Weir, Redmond (Redmond 79), Harrop; Powell.
Subs: Fletcher, Dorrington, Rothwell, Rashford, McTominay.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Leicester: Henry; Miles, Sesay, Moore (King 66), Fox (Rowe 66); Kipre (Anderson 46), McCourt; Cain, Panayiotou, Barmby; Blyth.
Subs: Olukanaki, Yates, Anderson, Rowe, King.
Manager: Steve Beaglehope