Manchester United wonderkid Hannibal Mejbri scored his first goal for the club in the Under-18s’ 2-1 away win in the ‘mini-derby’ against Manchester City.
It rounded off a great week for the talented Frenchman after an eye-catching substitute cameo appearance for Neil Wood’s Under-23 side on Monday night against Middlesbrough.
Mejbri endured a frustrating first half at the Etihad Complex as the hosts dominated possession and pinned Neil Ryan’s side back, he barely touched the ball.
But in the second half, United came flying out the blocks with a statement of intent, Reece Devine who came into the side with the Under-23s not playing until the 22nd November combined with Anthony Elanga down United’s left.
Devine cut the ball back perfectly for the on-rushing Mejbri who clinically slotted the ball into the bottom corner first time on the edge of the box in the 46th minute.
United’s goal forced City to take more risks, which created space for Mejbri to get on the ball and dictate the tempo and show his full array of passing.
There was a great move between Mejbri and Elanga, which resulted in a cross just being out-of-reach for Dillon Hoogewerf.
The 16-year-old then released the Dutchman with a beautiful outside of the foot pass.
Charlie Wellens replaced Mejbri in the 69th minute as he was already on a yellow card and looked to be on his final warning after making numerous niggly fouls.
It was another excellent performance from the former Monaco youngster, who at times had to deal with some rough treatment from the City players.
What’s so impressive about Mejbri already is his temperament to shrug off the number of fouls he receives, but also his willingness and desire to do the dirty work and help his team out, he isn’t afraid to get stuck in.
His first goal for the club since joining in the summer will do wonders for his confidence and United look like they have got a real gem on their hands.
Resilient defensive display
City came into the home clash winning 5 out of 5 at the Etihad Complex and were averaging 4 goals per game on home soil.
United’s defence was bolstered by having Under-23 players Devine, who was playing against his former club and Teden Mengi available.
Neil Ryan’s team hadn’t kept a clean sheet since the opening day of the season and came into the Manchester derby clash scoring as many goals as they had conceded (19).
However, United defended diligently and stoutly, throwing bodies on the line and in the first half in particular producing a perfect rear-guard display.
Will Fish and Mengi produced a number of brave goal-bound blocks and goalkeeper Ondrej Mastny made some crucial saves and interventions.
In the 65th minute, United showed their ability to press from the front and win the ball high up the pitch, the impressive Mark Helm fed Mengi who found himself in the striker position and slotted the ball home like a natural number 9.
City reduced the deficit in the 75th minute through substitute Liam Delap to set up a nervy finish.
United came under increased pressure, but they weathered the storm and produced a valiant display.
Substitute Bjorn Hardley saved a certain goal in injury time with a terrific sliding clearance to ensure United got their first win over City at Under-18 level since the Citizens moved to the Etihad Complex.
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