Barclays Premier League Under-21s Division 1
Manchester United vs. Norwich City
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Monday, 8 February 2016
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Will Keane bagged a brace before half-time, before a further three second half goals after the interval succumbed the Canaries to a heavy defeat.
Andreas Pereira’s penalty and Timothy Fosu-Mensah also grabbed in the second period, on what was also a healthy team performance as well as a dominant scoreline from United.
Beginning on the front foot, Adnan Januzaj’s ball into Keane allowed the striker to turn via his touch before forcing Remi Matthews into a smart save low to his left.
The resulting corner from Januzaj needed to be tipped over by Matthews before another corner three minutes later taken by the same player was dummied by Memphis and flicked just wide by Keane.
Januzaj’s pull back to Pereira saw the latter’s shot blocked behind and the immediate corner to follow made its way to Pereira at the back post, whose pass teed up Keane, whose touch and volley was smashed home to give United a deserved lead.
Josh Harrop’s left-footed attempt flew over before Benny Ashley-Seal’s effort was off target at the other end before the home side doubled their advantage.
Pereira’s ball to Memphis saw the winger skip past one challenge, run forward with the ball, beat his man again, before his low cross was tapped home by the well-placed Keane.
97 seconds into the second half and Memphis burst through after winning the ball off Joe Crowe, and similar to the second goal, his low cross left Keane with the simple task of tapping home.
Keane nearly turned provider by playing in Donald Love, who fired over from distance.
A harsh handball was then awarded on Ray Grant as Pereira’s cross struck the midfielder’s arm, but the penalty was given and Pereira sent Matthews the wrong way, slotting the ball to right of the goal.
Then came a moment of pure quality, as Keane’s one-two with James Weir led to some sublime skill to skip through two defenders, allowing him to chip Matthews from an improbable angle, yet it came off for his fourth and United’s fifth.
Sergio Romero was finally tested, parrying away Grant’s free-kick, as Fosu-Mensah got in on the act, racing onto a Memphis through ball before slotting past Matthews with a finish any striker would’ve been proud of.
Captain Weir’s nutmeg then through ball found Keane, who finished underneath the onrushing Matthews to bag his fifth.
Pereira saw a shot parried and Fosu-Mensah curled over, as full-time arrived with a more than comfortable victory at the Theatre of Dreams for Warren Joyce’s side.
Another two home games await, with Manchester City and Reading up next at Leigh Sports Village, the derby on Thursday night at 8pm before the visit of The Royals next Monday at 7pm.
A job well done and it keeps the U21s on the tail of Sunderland at the top of Division 1 of this season’s Premier League, with the gap reduced to just one point, with United also boasting two games in hand.
Manchester United: Romero; Varela (Fosu-Mensah 36), McNair, Jones (Williams 59), Love; Weir, Harrop; Januzaj (Willock 33), A. Pereira, Memphis; Keane.
Subs: Rothwell, J. Pereira, Willock, Fosu-Mensah, Williams.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Norwich: Matthews; Hall-Johnson, Crowe, Coker, Efete; Grant, Godfrey; Adams (McIntosh 81), Cantwell, Middleton (Ramsay 46); Ashley-Seal.
Subs: Couzens, Killip, McIntosh, Jaiyesimi, Ramsay.
Manager: Dmitri Halajko