Teden Mengi produced a defensive masterclass to help his Manchester United under-21 side see off League Two outfit Bradford City 3-0 in the EFL Trophy.
With neither side breaking the deadlock in the first half, Dillon Hoogewerf came off the bench for Neil Wood’s side at half-time hoping to influence proceedings.
The Dutchman did exactly that, his cross for Joe Hugill gave his strike partner a tap in and his impressive second half performance was capped off with a stunning solo goal of his own.
With the likes of Hugill, Hoogewerf, Shola Shoretire and Zidane Iqbal causing problems for the hosts.
Mengi was rock solid at the back and dominated the senior opposition.
Impressive night for Teden Mengi
Prior to the clash at Valley Parade, the 19-year-old would have had aspirations of being part of the first team squad to face West Ham United in the Carabao Cup, with his teammate Anthony Elanga.
But instead Mengi was leading his side to their first EFL Trophy win of the season.
Mengi didn’t put a foot wrong in what was a dominant and mature performance from the centre back.
With United’s youngsters inevitably expected to come under pressure against the more physical and senior opposition in parts of the game, it was Mengi’s positioning and ability to sense danger which highlighted his supremacy.
The youngster registered a staggering 13 clearances, two interceptions and blocked two shots (SofaScore). But what was even more impressive was that Mengi didn’t get dribbled past once in an all conquering display.
He won his solitary ground duel and both aerial duels. He also completed 69 out of his 74 attempted passes (93%). He also had 93 touches, only his defensive partner Paul McShane had more (104).
Mengi becoming senior figure
Although the youngster didn’t leave on loan this summer, he is leading his teams’ charge in both the UEFA Youth League and EFL Trophy.
And after missing the opening game defeat against Lincoln City, Mengi will relish the remaining group stage clash against Sunderland, which could prove to be a straight shootout for knockout qualification.
Victory against Young Boys in Switzerland last week meant that United’s young reds got their European campaign off to the perfect start.
Mengi has also started the last Premier League 2 games alongside Phil Jones with Dean Henderson in goal behind him, so that will be a positive learning experience, captaining the side in both matches.
But he is also training against one of Europe’s scariest forward lines at Carrington every week and the lessons he’ll be learning there will be helping his performances in matches.
Despite fears that not securing a loan move could hinder his development, Mengi is flourishing and looks to be relishing being one of the senior figures in a young dressing room.
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