Goals from Anthony Elanga, Facundo Pellistri and Arnau Puigmal gave Manchester United an excellent 3-1 win against Southampton U23s in Premier League 2.
There were some seriously impressive performances in the side. Teden Mengi’s silent work at the back was crucial, Mark Helm was equally essential with his work ethic in midfield. Alvaro Fernandez has had an excellent start to his United career since joining from Real Madrid and had another fine game.
Three other players stood out in particular, though.
Electric speed. That’s what defined Pellistri’s game. The Uruguayan is settling quickly into Neil Wood’s side. His goal was typical of his play on Friday night. Pellistri raced onto Shoretire’s ball, gave the goalkeeper the eyes after showing good control of it and tucked it away into the bottom left corner.
It was an important fixture for Pellistri. Southampton had an older and stronger team than United. It’s more comparable to what Pellistri will face when he steps up to the first team.
After the game, Pellistri gave his first post-match interview with MUTV.
“I’m really happy with the team,” he said.
“The intensity was very good. Luckily we take this match as we worked very hard. I’m very happy with that.
“It feels amazing [to get a first goal]. I was really looking forward to this goal. Hopefully there are more coming.”
“I am settling in much better. I am enjoying the time here in Manchester with this club. My mates are very kind with me and that’s very important.”
Pellistri’s goal was assisted by Shoretire. The 16-year-old constantly shocks with the consistent level of quality he shows. Spinning two defenders with a wonderful bit of skill, Shoretire showed great vision and technique to pick out the space. Pellistri ran into it and finished well.
Shoretire works hard, has good game intelligence and already competes against much stronger players. His age is no problem. To be doing what he is doing at 16 is a fantastic sign. It’s not as if he is physically blessed in terms of height and strength either.
He could have had three or four assists on Friday night. It was a great match from him.
Ethan Galbraith was absent on Friday and in his absence, Puigmal put in another exemplary display and asserted himself as the side’s best player of the season.
Puigmal is hard-working, technically good and has the right balance of creativity. The consistent levels of quality he is finding means he will be on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s radar. A chance is not imminent for Puigmal but he is leading this under-23s team and in the long-term, that’s a positive for his CV.
Seemingly ready for the physical challenge of first team football, Puigmal is proving he can dominate at under-23s level.
On Friday he broke up Southampton’s play in midfield, acted as the transition player as United looked to counter-attack with Pellistri and Elanga’s pace and scored the third to wrap the game up.
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