UNDER-18S: UNITED DIG IN FOR ANOTHER BIG WIN

  Manchester United's Under-18s remained on a high-scoring streak with an eventually comfortable 4-1 win at Sunderland on Tuesday aftern...

 

Manchester United's Under-18s remained on a high-scoring streak with an eventually comfortable 4-1 win at Sunderland on Tuesday afternoon.

Charlie McNeill, Alvaro Fernandez, Dillon Hoogewerf and Isak Hansen compiled the impressive and, to some degree, deceptive scoreline. The final three efforts came in the last fifteen minutes, which provides some indication of how close the game was prior to that mini goal-rush.

At no stage was it an easy win but it was more than enough to see the Reds stretch the lead at the top to five points over both Liverpool and Manchester City, although both rivals have games in hand.

It was a dull and breezy Wearside that greeted Neil Ryan’s players and staff following the journey up from Manchester and little had changed when kick-off time arrived.

Although nothing should ever be taken for granted in football, on the face of it, this was a fixture that the Reds could look forward to with some optimism. This was a top-against-bottom clash with the Black Cats rooted at the foot of the table, having endured something of a torrid season to trail league leaders United by 41 points.

That said, to anyone who wasn’t aware of the facts, it would have been an extremely difficult job to separate the teams as half-time was reached. Okay, the visitors were a goal to the good, but in terms of application and endeavour there was little or nothing to choose between the teams.

Having scored in the 14th minute, United appeared to be on course for another comfortable, and perhaps high-scoring, afternoon but the home side had worked commendably hard to limit the Reds to a solitary goal by the break.

That lone goal, which was timed on fourteen minutes, was mainly the result of Isak Hansen’s positive run forward that had the Sunderland defence retreating. Fernandez, who had joined in the attack, took a short pass from the former Tromso midfield player before crossing into the area. The ball struck a group of players and looked goal-bound but was blocked on the line before McNeill followed up to thump home his 20th goal of the season.

United ran out 6-0 winners against Sunderland in the home game at the Aon Training Complex earlier in the season, after also being just one goal in front at half-time, but that certainly didn’t look like being repeated in this meeting. And that appeared even more unlikely when, with twenty minutes left on the clock, Sunderland’s skipper Josh Baggs headed his side level from Caden Kelly’s corner.

It was a goal that Sunderland deserved but parity was only to last five minutes before Fernandez swooped to restore the lead after Charlie Savage’s corner had caused havoc in the Black Cats’ penalty area.

Three minutes later and the victory looked assured when the impressive Fernandez centred for Hoogewerf to head United’s third goal at the far post.

Hansen’s solo effort in the third minute of added time added a touch of lustre to the final scoreline.

MATCH DETAILS

United: Mee; Wellens (Garnacho 80), Bennett, Fish, Fernandez; Savage, Svidersky; Hoogewerf, Hansen, Forson (Iqbal 67); McNeill.

Substitutes: Guadagno, Jackson.

Goals: United - McNeill 14, Fernandez 75, Hoogewerf 78, Hansen 90+3 | Sunderland - Baggs 70.

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