Manchester United’s under-21 side won the first game of the club’s Papa John’s Trophy campaign against Carlisle United.

League Two side Carlisle had made several changes to their regular XI, but still put out a team containing players with far more competitive experience than Manchester United’s youngsters.

Manchester United won the game 2-1, with Charlie McNeill scoring a first half goal after an Alejandro Garnacho assist to open the scoring.

Carlisle equalised in the second half before United’s lead was restored minutes later, with Omari Forson curling in a winner from outside the box after good work from McNeill.

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Photo by Manchester United/Manchester United via Getty Images

Manchester United u21 win over Carlisle

The star of the show in Manchester United’s midfield was pre-season breakthrough talent Zidane Iqbal.

Iqbal pulled the strings in the centre, as part of a midfield three with FA Youth Cup winners Kobbie Mainoo, just 17, and Dan Gore, 18.

He played 65 minutes, with Carlisle scoring their equaliser a minute after he was taken off. An outstanding strike from Forson gave United all three points in the group.

Iqbal’s numbers from the game highlighted his quality in possession. Per SofaScore, Iqbal completed 91 per cent of his passes, 30 of 33 attempted.

He also created four goalscoring chances, more than any Manchester United player despite playing only 65 minutes. Omari Forson was closest with three key passes.

Iqbal also made one interception and one successful dribble, attempting two shots, which were both blocked.

It was a successful showing for the pre-season star, playing in his first academy game this season since his excellent first team performances which caught Erik ten Hag’s eye, and watching Manchester United supporters.

Like Alejandro Garnacho, he has been kept around the first team squad, and this was a useful opporutnity for Iqbal, 19, to get some game time. When Erik ten Hag reviews the game, he will likely be impressed by Iqbal’s contribution.

There could be minutes ahead for the talented young midfielder in Europa League matches. Last night he did his chances no harm at all.

United XI: Vitek; Jurado, Fredricson, Bennett, Hardley; Iqbal, Mainoo, Gore; Garnacho, McNeill, Forson.

Subs used: Huddlestone, Murray, Hansen-Aaroen, Oyedele, Norkett.

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