For the first time since 2011, the Manchester United Under 18s are playing in the FA Youth Cup Final, with Nottingham Forest just standing in their way of an 11th Youth Cup trophy, but what is just as impressive as reaching the final itself, is the dominant fashion in which they have done it.
Manchester United 4-2 Scunthorpe United
The Youth Cup run started on a rainy night at Old Trafford in mid-December against Scunthorpe United, in which United cruised to a 4-2 victory in their first match in front of a crowd at the Theatre of Dreams to start their run to the Final.
It was a great opening half-hour from the young reds, quickly taking a commanding 2-0 lead, with the opening an easy tap-in from Sam Mather assisted by a great cross from Alejandro Garnacho, who was more than involved in the second goal, as Charlie McNeill flicked the ball into him in the box, which he flicked back into the air and executed an overhead kick to perfection to double United’s lead.
Scunthorpe managed to equalise just before half time through Harry Lewis, but just after the break, United regain their two-goal lead through Maximillian Odeyele, he was first to a loose ball on the edge of the box, and he found himself some space to fire a shot into the bottom corner.
Just five minutes later the win was sealed through McNeill, a great ball over the top from KobbFDie Mainoo found McNeill, his poor touch took it past the keeper to Mather, whose control fell back into the path of McNeill for an open goal and to celebrate he made sure to make the travelling Scunthorpe fans know who he is as he shushed them.
A great free-kick routine from Scunthorpe got them slightly back into the games with Josh Robertson grabbing the goal, but it ended being a consolation goal, as United advanced into the next round where they faced Reading away from home.
Reading 1-3 Manchester United
In their only away game in this run to the final, United youngster advanced into the next round after three goals in fourteen minutes killed the game of in the first half.
The scoring started off with Mainoo grabbing his first Youth Cup goal after a bunch of deflections from Reading defenders gave the ball right into the path for Mainoo, who finished well with his left foot past the keeper.
Two goals in two minutes secured Untied name into the next round, it was Mather who doubled United lead as McNeill’s cross gave him a shooting opportunity and his shot was deflected off a Reading defender, sending the keeper the wrong way and right from kick off, United forced Reading into a mistake, finding Garnacho on the left hand side, who crossed it to an open McNeill, who doesn’t miss inside the box to take an impressive lead.
The second half United were in cruise control, but Reading scored a late consolation goal with Ashton Greaver’s strike at the back-post denying Untied a clean sheet, but it didn’t deny them a place in the next round as they face their toughest test yet in Everton.
Manchester United 4-1 Everton
In the fifth round, Untied returned to Old Trafford, where they didn’t disappoint their fans as they secured their place in the next round with an empathic victory, despite falling behind early in the game.
Just eleven minutes into the game United fell behind for the first time in this competition, as Francis Okoronkwo’s left footed strike fired the visitors into the lead, but the lead was short lived as just three minutes later, McNeill levelled up the score from the penalty spot to score in his third successive game in the Youth Cup
At the mid-point of the half, Untied took their first lead in the game, McNeill’s great run from the left wing to the right wing opened up the Everton defence, he laid the ball off to Marc Jurado, who crossed the ball into the box, and Mainoo climbed above the Everton defenders for his second goal in the Youth Cup.
United doubled their lead midway through the second half, with Mather grabbing his third goal in the Youth Cup with his left footed finish making it’s way past multiple Everton players to find its way into the back of net after multiple blocked shots just before hand.
The game looked to ending 3-1, but Garnacho had other ideas, a cleared header from Mainoo fell to Garnacho in his own half, and with a defender by his side, he ran the length of the pitch, leaving the defender in his dust, and as he got into the box he had many options, but he cheekily chipped the ball over the keeper for one of the great Youth Cup goals in United’s history.
Manchester United 2-1 Leicester City
With a place in the semi-finals at stake, United had their closely contested game of their Youth Cup journey thus far, as it took a last gasp winner to beat a very good Leicester City side.
For the second successive game United fell behind, with former United player Christopher Popov scoring the goal as Leicester capitalised on a mistake from Sam Murray to take the lead on the half-hour mark.
Just before half-time United found themselves with a free-kick centrally on the edge of the box with Garnacho standing over to take it, he fired the ball to the keepers side, who didn’t expect it and the ball found its way past him into the back of the net to level up the score going into the break.
It was an evenly contested game with neither side seemingly to able to find the winner, but in the dying embers of the game United attacked down the right hand side with the ball at the feet at Mainoo, he aimed a pass to the back-post which found the feet of Garnacho, his touch perfectly was perfect for a left footed shot to be fired and he did just that, firing the ball into the far corner and his side into the semi-final.
Manchester United 3-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
The semi-final nerves didn’t get to the young United players, as they convincingly dispatched of Wolves as they kept their first clean sheet of the Youth Cup to advance to the final.
McNeill opened up the scoring after fifth-teen minutes, a great ball over the top from Isak Hansen-Aarøen found McNeill, and as the keeper rushed towards him, he took the ball around him and scored at a tight angle to put one foot in the final.
On the hour mark, it was Garnacho again who stepped up with another great goal in the Youth Cup, Gore’s from his own half found Garnacho one-on-one with his defender on the left wing, he cut back on his right foot and fired the ball into the far top corner to give United full control of the game.
To seal United’s place in the final, McNeill scored his second goal of the game thanks to great work in the middle of the park from Mainoo as he won a battle with the Wolves midfielder and flicked the ball over the top to Garnacho, whose left footed shot was parried by the keeper in the path of McNeill for an easy tap in and he then celebrated by waving goodbye to the Wolves fans and waving hello to the FA Youth Cup Final.