Manchester United’s under-21 side recorded a second successive win to make it a strong start to 2023 and follow up a big first team victory.
United’s youngsters took on Liverpool, and overturned an early goal conceded, to go on and win 2-1. Here is a look at five things we learned from the youngsters’ win…
Young talent Willy Kambwala made his under-21s debut in this fixture, and completed all 90 minutes. Kambwala was a £3.6 million signing on deadline day in 2020 from Sochaux, the final foreign academy signing before Brexit rules.
Injuries have hampered Kambwala’s development, with just 15 under-18s games played. He made his return in December at 18s level, and looked excellent, and United are understandably keen to test him further and make up for lost time.
The youngster came through this game well, and we could see a lot more him at this level in 2023. While he doesn’t turn 19 until August, under-21s is the level United would have expected him to be at by now, and he can now feel his development is getting back on track.
Joe Hugill double
Joe Hugill was the matchwinner for Manchester United, scoring a goal in each half to turn the game around after United conceded in the first minute.
Both goals were poacher’s strikes from inside the box, with the first set up by Isak Hansen-Aaroen.
Hugill’s start to the season was delayed by injury, he now has four goals in three under-21 matches, and 35 goals total since signing for Manchester United’s academy from Sunderland in 2020.
Liverpool will be sick of the sight of him too. Hugill has now scored 10 goals in 7 matches at 18s and 21s level against United’s bitter rivals.
Mejia’s third assist
The winner was set up by substitute Mateo Mejia, who like Kambwala and goalscorer Hugill, has suffered with injury since joining United from Real Zaragoza.
Now a Colombia under-20 international, Mejia is on a good run of form, providing his third assist in just four games this season.
This one came from a driving run down the right wing, before a low accurate cross into the penalty box which was swept home by Hugill.
Brandon Williams features
Following the theme of injury-hit stars bouncing back, Brandon Williams completed his first 90 minutes at any level since his loan spell at Norwich last season.
After two 45 minutes spells in United’s winter friendlies, this was vital for Williams, who could spend the second half of the season either on loan, or as a back-up first team full-back.
Williams began the game a little rusty, caught in possession and a chance given away. He redeemed himself after half-time, with a superb sliding block to deny a goalscoring opportunity.
United conceding a fourth minute goal was far from ideal, and it was only the brilliance of goalkeeper Radek Vitek which prevented Liverpool from doubling their lead.
The FA Youth Cup winner produced a couple of excellent saves to keep United in it, and he is developing well after stepping up a level this season.
This was the 19-year-old’s 10th appearance for the under-21s this season. He has also trained with the first team squad and was part of the winter training camp.