A Manchester United under-19 side which was managed by Nicky Butt saw off European giants AC Milan 3-0 in a friendly at Leigh Sports Village.
A first half goal from D’Mani Mellor in the 33rd minute, a classy finish from captain Angel Gomes in the 87th minute and a Tahith Chong penalty with the last kick of the game was enough to see off the Milan challenge.
For a lot of United’s youngsters the match will prove to be their last outing before of 2019 and the Premier League 2 top of the table clash against West Ham United early in 2020.
However, the likes of Ethan Laird, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong and the returning Diogo Dalot will be hoping to be play a part in the senior side’s hectic festive schedule.
Here are the three United players that impressed.
United’s Czech stopper certainly doesn’t lack self-belief or confidence, he looks as laid back as they come with the ball at his feet.
His distribution and composure in possession was a real highlight in his performance and it allowed United to stay on the front foot.
Even when Kovar has strikers sprinting straight at him, he trusts his dribbling ability to negotiate tricky situations and calmly pass the ball to a team mate.
With the talented Daniel Maldini, son of the legendary Paulo Maldini, eager to showcase his qualities, Kovar had to be at his shot stopping best to deny the Italian’s vicious dipping effort.
Kovar had no time to admire his save, he showed his lightening reflexes as the ball ricocheted off Mellor in the six yard box, but Kovar was on hand to claw the ball to safety.
With Dalot starting in a bid to build up match fitness, Laird was switched to left-back.
The Portuguese youngster may be returning from a period on the sidelines, but it was Laird who looked ready if called upon for first team duty ahead of Dalot.
Laird was galloping down the left causing problems and showing off his seering pace and quick feet.
United’s opener came from Laird’s good work, he slowed the opposing defender down before beating him for pace on the outside before delivering a cross, which gave Mellor a tap in.
Laird was also involved in United’s second, he linked up well with Gomes, moving the ball quickly and giving the captain the chance to get a shot off.
The 18-year-old was certainly not treating the match as a friendly, he was up and down all game, but he was equally aggressive and disciplined with the defensive side of his game.
After Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted Gomes had been struggling with illness and an ankle knock in recent weeks, it was a timely reminder of the ability he possessess.
Fans will be concerned that the January transfer window is looming and Gomes is yet to commit his long-term future to the club.
But his performance against Milan showed the vision, quality and threat he brings when the ball is at his feet.
A real highlight of his display was his willingness to come deep to collect possession and then show his long-range passing quality.
With Milan searching for an equaliser, it was Gomes’ clinical finish in the far bottom corner, which secured the victory.
His perfectly weighted pass for Chong in the build up to the penalty shows what he can do when he has players running in behind the defence into space.
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