Alejandro Garnacho enjoyed a special day for Manchester United’s under-18 side at the weekend.

The Spaniard netted a hat-trick in a 6-1 win over Stoke, a result which took United clear at the top of the table in first place.

While an important moment for Garnacho in his season, the game was also a significant one for teammate Charlie McNeill.

Manchester United v Stoke City - U18 Premier League
(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

McNeill assisted all three of Garnacho’s goals, laying each of them on a plate for the quick-thinking Spaniard to nip in and score from close range.

They were poachers’ strikes, with Garnacho taking advantage of McNeill’s selflessness and creativity.

Grabbed a goal too

McNeill actually missed a close range sitter himself in the second half, when it looked easier to score. He made up for it less than two minutes later by getting onto the scoresheet with a harder finish.

This was his 17th goal of the season, overtaking teammate Joe Hugill’s tally of 16 academy goals for the season – although many of his come for the under-23s.


McNeill has 16 in the league and one in the Youth Cup. But until a fortnight ago he did not have a single assist to his name.

This changed with a superb reverse pass against Everton in a 2-0 win last time out, setting up Omari Forson for the opener.

Now after a hat-trick of assists against Stoke, 17-year-old McNeill showed he is plenty more than just a goalscorer.

The point of playing academy football is to improve as a player, not just score as many goals as possible. It is important for McNeill to develop his game, and forge links with teammates.

He showed he is striking up a connection with Garnacho, who now has six goals for the season himself after his contribution. With 23 goals combined, this could be a partnership to watch in the future.

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