Kobbie Mainoo scores winning penalty as Manchester United under-21s reach EFL Trophy last 16 and adds to fixture congestion for Ten Hag

Tuesday night had been expected to shape up as a quiet one for Manchester United. With the World Cup on, the under-21s playing an EFL Trophy game against Wolves could have commanded some attention.

This was a bit of a tall ask for fans already with the game not on MUTV or any other broadcaster, and a huge night of news completely overshadowed it.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure was confirmed by the club before kick-off, and then news emerged of the Glazers being willing to explore a sale.

Manchester United’s young guns won the game against their Wolves counterparts, with the match finishing 0-0 after 90 minutes and going to a penalty shootout.

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Manchester United under-21s reach EFL Trophy last 16

United had progressed through the knockout stages unbeaten against Fleetwood Town, Barrow, and Carlisle United.

This set up a knockout tie against Wolves in the last 32, a stage of the competition where United’s young squad have been beaten the last two seasons.

Now for the first time United’s under-21 side are into the EFL Trophy last 16, after winning the penalty shoot-out.

This was how United lined up: Bishop; Hardley, Jurado, Murray, Mengi; Savage, Mainoo, Huddlestone, Gore; Emeran, Shoretire.

Charlie McNeill and Manni Norkett both came off the bench in the second half, with player-coach Tom Huddlestone only playing 63 minutes.

United won the shootout 4-1, with Jurado, McNeill, Norkett all scoring before Kobbie Mainoo scored the penalty to clinch the tie.

Mainoo, 17, was one of United’s best players on the night, awarded a 7.5/10 by SofaScore, completed 32 of 37 passes and creating three goalscoring chances.

He won six duels and capped off his night with the winning spot-kick, with United reaching the last 16.

Complication for Erik ten Hag

The draw for the next round will be held on Thursday at 4.30pm on Sky Sports News, states the EFL website, with the ties to be held on the week commencing December 12.

This tie will be held while the threadbare first team squad are due in Spain for winter friendlies against Cadiz and Real Betis, potentially complicating Erik ten Hag’s plans to bring some of the youngsters along.

Charlie McNeill, Shola Shoretire and Kobbie Mainoo are among those who have been involved in matchday squads this season and Charlie Savage played a prominent role in pre-season.

Zidane Iqbal was not involved as he has been on international duty with Iraq, but played in earlier rounds of the competition, as did Alejandro Garnacho.

It is possible United could field a team mixed with some of the under-18 squad – but the FA Youth Cup campaign kicks off with an away tie against Crystal Palace the following weekend.

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