Five Manchester United youngsters who impressed in Under-23 win
Neil Wood’s Manchester United Under-23 side swept aside Sunderland in the Premier League 2 at Old Trafford.
Despite the visitors sitting back in a deep shape in an attempt to frustrate United’s youngsters, our quality shone through.
United took the lead through Largie Ramazani in the 16th minute after he collected a beautifully weighted long pass from Dylan Levitt.
The Belgian’s first touch was immaculate and his strike deflected past the Sunderland goalkeeper.
Wood’s side doubled their lead in the 42nd minute after a Sunderland clearance fell to Ethan Galbraith on the edge of area, who then placed a strike into the bottom corner.
D’Mani Mellor could have scored twice in 30 seconds in the 75th minute. He was denied from a tight angle at the near post as his effort hammered back off the crossbar.
He then found himself unmarked 10 yards out but his right footed effort was way over the bar.
Ramazani put the icing on the cake and secured a 3-0 win after firing the ball into the bottom corner after collecting the ball near the halfway line.
Here are five players that impressed in the win.
The 17-year-old has benefitted from Brandon Williams’ promotion to the senior side.
Devine signalled his intention from the first minute driving forward on a lung busting run similar to Williams and testing the keeper from long range.
United’s left-back possesses real energy and is a constant attacking outlet, him stepping up after Williams’ emergence highlights the strength in depth that United have at all levels.
Devine will believe that he can follow in the footsteps as Williams and will be benefitting from playing regular action under Wood.
A silly yellow card for a blatant dive would have infuriated Wood, but Devine nearly scored after latching onto an enticing cross from Laird, which alluded everyone, but his effort was smartly saved at the near post.
United’s right-back produced another impressive performance and will be hoping to make his senior debut against Astana on Thursday.
His rampaging runs from deep put Sunderland on the back foot and he played an integral role in United’s second goal.
After driving forward, Laird slowed the opposing full-back down before producing a great piece of skill to jink past his man and deliver a cross, which resulted in Galbraith perfectly placing the ball into the back of the net.
There was one occasion in the first half where Sunderland threatened to carve United open, but Laird showed his defensive awareness and produced a great last ditch tackle.
He was wrongly booked in the second half for a well-timed crunching tackle.
Galbraith’s goal wasn’t as eye-catching as his thunderbolt against Lincoln City in the EFL Trophy, but it was another demonstration of his eye for goal.
The Northern Ireland international flourished once again alongside Levitt and his importance to Wood’s side continues to grow.
Galbraith has a knack for ghosting into the box undetected and his first time finish showed that his confidence is soaring, there was no doubt in his mind when the ball fell at his feet.
He may have to wait for a first team opportunity, with his partner Levitt ahead of him in the queue, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was in attendance would have been impressed with what he saw.
After being away with the Northern Ireland Under-21s during the international break, he was replaced by Mark Helm in the 63rd minute.
The Welshman came into the match on a real high after being part of the Wales squad during the international break, which clinched qualification for the European Championships.
Levitt, who was captain on the night put on yet another passing clinic and showed that he is knocking on the first team door.
His first moment of quality came in the 7th minute with a delicate threaded through ball, which carved the Sunderland defence open with a well-weighted pass to Devine.
Every time Levitt got on the ball he was looking forwards and showed his long-range passing, often finding Laird, who was practically playing as a winger with his starting position.
With Sunderland setting up in a deep and compact manner, it was Levitt’s great long ball, which was perfectly weighted for Ramazani that played a crucial role in breaking the deadlock.
In the 38th minute, with the Sunderland keeper off his line, Levitt attempted an audacious effort, but the stopper who was scrambling back into his net managed to just claw the ball to safety.
Levitt dictated the tempo of the match and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was used in the senior sides upcoming matches against Astana, AZ Alkmaar and Colchester.
Under-23 football looks too easy for Levitt, he can stroll around and make any pass that he pleases without any real pressure put on him.
United’s little Belgian was a menace all evening and when he got in full flight, the Sunderland defence backed off.
The way that he took the long-pass from Levitt showed his predatory instincts, but it was his movement off the left-hand side that gave him the opportunity.
Maybe Ramazani has been watching Marcus Rashford.
His second goal was all about his devastating dribbling, he picked the ball up deep in the Sunderland half and drove straight for goal.
The defence was so reluctant to dive in, they allowed Ramazani to fire a strike into the bottom corner.
That took his tally for the season to 9 in 14 games. He could have had a hat-trick but his effort late on was straight at the keeper.
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