Manchester United bounced back from last week’s under-23s defeat to West Ham with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Southampton. Goals came from Facundo Pellistri, who is knocking on the first team door, and Anthony Elanga.

Three points take United to sixth in Premier League 2. Manager Neil Wood will be hugely pleased with a win against difficult opposition. In Southampton’s team were the talented Michael Obafemi and Callum Slattery, both of whom caused United problems throughout.

United move up to 6th in Premier League 2

Southampton had an early string of chances. Slattery cut inside from the left. His right-footed shot did not have sufficient whip on it to cause Woolston problems, but had little enough to let it tease across the six-yard box. No Saints man could get a toe on it to convert it home.

Slattery was provider from defence again soon after, lofting a lovely through ball into Obafemi’s feet. He took it down well but Woolston came out quickly and smothered the ball. Three minutes later, Obafemi fed Tyreke Johnson. His powerful shot was saved easily at the near post.


United grew into the game after the 20-minute mark. Mark Helm, receiving the ball in space on right of the box, looked for the early shot to surprise the goalkeeper. He got it out of his feet well and goalkeeper Latham took two attempts to deal with the driven shot.

Anthony Elanga gives United first half lead

Arnau Puigmal was once again in excellent form. Latham watched a decent free-kick from him go wide pretty comfortably. 10 minutes later, Anthony Elanga’s free-kick struck the middle of the wall. He reacted quickly and lashed it in through a crowd of bodies to give United the lead. The anticipation and technique for the shot were fantastic.

LEIGH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Facundo Pellistri of Manchester United U23s in action during the Premier League 2 match between Manchester United U23s and Southampton U23s at Leigh Sports Village on December 04, 2020 in Leigh, England.
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Facundo Pellistri scores for Manchester United U23s

Right at the end of the half, Latham made an excellent double save to deny Wellens and then Fish. United went into the break playing well and came out of it even better. 23 seconds into the second half, Facundo Pellistri ran unopposed through the Saints half and finished with composure into the bottom left corner. He had been set up by Shola Shoretire, producing a wonderful moment of skill and then a perfect through ball.

More chances would come for United, but first Obafemi brought Southampton back into it. With 51 minutes gone, the Irishman calmly sidefooted home a good pullback from Johnson. It was an excellent move. Johnson got past Bejger, his assist was good and Obafemi’s finish was cool.

It was an often stop-start game that required cool heads. Bookings were frequent, free-kicks even more so. Chances were too, though. United could have extended their lead time after time. Pellistri came close to getting a second but an almost unnoticeable but utterly crucial touch from the defender behind forced the ball to bobble up and Pellistri’s shot, from only nine yards out, hit the crossbar.

Arnau Puigmal scores seventh goal of season for United

The game was finally wrapped up by Puigmal. He has been the under-23s’ best player so far this season. Another fine performance was capped off with a deserved goal, Puigmal’s seventh of the season.

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