Manchester United’s Under-23s went down 3-0 to Premier League 2 leaders and champions-elect Manchester City at Etihad Campus on Friday.
The Reds encountered a team at the top of their form and bursting with confidence and try as they might United just couldn’t find the spark to match the high-scoring Blues.
The Reds have just three fixtures remaining, starting with Chelsea at Leigh Sports Village next Friday, and then home and away against Derby County.
City’s Academy stadium, which is just across the road from the club’s main Etihad Stadium, provided a fine setting for this derby. Situated as it is, about a mile from Piccadilly, there’s a fantastic view of the city’s ever-changing skyline and it is perfect spot to watch the Metros going past on their way to Ashton-under-Lyne.
The game was preceded by brief silence as a respectful gesture ahead of Prince Philip’s funeral at Windsor Castle tomorrow.
Watch Ondrej Mastny pull off an amazing save to deny Liam Delap.
City opened the game in a style befitting a team that know they are on the brink of winning the title, as they would stretch their lead at the top to 11 points. And their skipper Tommy Doyle – the grandson of legendary Blues Mike Doyle and Glyn Pardoe – was in the thick of the early action.
The home side were dominating the possession and stacking up the chances, so it came as no real surprise when, in the 14th minute, they moved into the lead. Romeo Lavia made it possible after beating several United players to the ball before darting into the area and crossing for winger Samuel Edozie to tuck home at the far post.
City were looking impressive with striker Liam Delap going close on more than one occasion but he was up against in-form United keeper Ondrej Mastny, who pulled off a number of praise-worthy saves.
It was better from United and we must have been reasonably happy to reach half-time trailing by just the one goal.
The sun had gone down and there was now a chill in the air as the second half began with City once again hitting the ground running. United needed to buckle down and get back to the level we reached earlier but, within eight minutes of the restart, the hosts doubled their lead.
There really didn’t seem to be any real threat when Cole Palmer received the ball about 30 yards out but he had other ideas and, without warning, he hit a totally unstoppable left-foot shot to register his 10th goal of the Premier League 2 season.
United were trying hard to make some headway in the contest with Hannibal constantly running and chasing every ball but all to no avail.
Twenty minutes from the end, City sealed the points with a second goal for Palmer, sweeping home after fine work by Doyle. Mastny made one astounding save to push a Delap drive onto the top of the woodwork while the energetic Doyle was denied a goal when smashing against the underside of the bar.
The best effort from Neil Wood’s side came in injury time, as Elanga, our most dangerous player all night, forced a wonderful fingertip stop out of Ciaran Slicker.
See how Anthony Elanga had United’s best attempt in the dying seconds.
United: Mastny; Wellens, Fish (c), Devine, Fernandez; McCann, Svidersky; Shoretire, Hannibal, Elanga; Hugill (Emeran 78).
Substitutes not used: Mee, Jurado, Helm, Savage.
City Scorers: Edozie 14, Palmer 53, 69.