Goals from 16-year-old attacking midfielder Daniel Gore and 17-year-old striker Charlie McNeill gave Manchester United U18s a comfortable away victory against Salford City in the FA Youth Cup Third Round.

United will host one of Liverpool and Sutton United in the competition’s Fourth Round, with the game likely to be played at Old Trafford.

Gore put United in front with a good header, converting a fantastic floated cross from Iestyn Hughes. McNeill doubled the lead for Neil Ryan’s side in the second half.

Alvaro Fernandez offers composed display in defence for Manchester United

The Spaniard dropped down from the under-23s and played the full game in a centre-back partnership alongside Bjorn Hardley. Fernandez normally plays at left-back in the higher age group but did well as a central defender.

A good reading of the game matched with decent pace means Fernandez is rarely in situations where he has to make late tackles. As for his on-the-ball quality, it’s clear to see.

SALFORD, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Alvaro Fernandez of Manchester United U18s in action during the FA Youth Cup match between Salford City U18s and Manchester United U18s at Peninsula Stadium on March 10, 2021 in Salford, England.
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Throughout this season, Fernandez has charged forward from deep positions in a similar manner to Luke Shaw in Sunday’s Manchester derby. Playing in the middle, he had less opportunity to do that on Wednesday night but did so regularly – and with some quality – in the second half when United’s lead became more comfortable.

Isak Hansen-Aarøen provides defence-splitting passes

In Hansen-Aarøen’s first game back since returning from his home country, the Norwegian impressed as one member of a midfield two. Assisted by the deeper Martin Svidersky, Hansen spent much of his game operating and playing like a deep number 10. An occasional shout of ‘Isak, get back,’ could be heard from Neil Ryan on the touchline but a couple of good tackles and an array of defence-splitting passes defined Hansen’s first half.

 

The 18-year-old was allowed to take up that more natural attacking midfield spot when, after 63 minutes, Dan Gore was subbed off for Marc Jurado.

In that role, Hansen-Aarøen played a key role in sweeping attacks, providing the on-running McNeill, Garnacho and Emeran with decent passes out onto the wings. On a heavy pitch, the blonde-haired Norwegian got the weight of his passes spot on.

Charlie McNeill scores again

SALFORD, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Charlie McNeill of Manchester United U18s in action during the FA Youth Cup match between Salford City U18s and Manchester United U18s at Peninsula Stadium on March 10, 2021 in Salford, England.
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

McNeill contributed to United’s build-up play throughout but in truth, he’s listed here simply for the quality of his goal. With the caveat that McNeill was facing up against opposition of a lesser quality than that he normally faces, it was a quite brilliant sequence of footwork, body feints and finishing.

His 15th goal of the season, this was one of the most aesthetic. His first touch (right-footed) allowed him to turn the defender, a couple more (left-footed) saw him skip past the defender and then he opened his body up, wrapped his right boot around the ball and watched a powerful drive lift upwards into the top right corner.

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