Manchester United began their quest to regain the U21 title with an emphatic 3-0 win against Norwich in a game which they dominated from start to finish as Louis Van Gaal’s influence began to be seen with United playing with three central defenders and two wing backs.
United began the game without a recognized striker on the pitch as James Wilson missed out on the chance to build on his four goal haul in last weeks game against Manchester City after picking up an injury while training with the first team in the run up to the Valencia game. Marnick Vermijl was also missing from the team who took on City. Sean Goss and Josh Harrop were the two players who came into the team as both players made their full Barclays U21 Premier League debuts after doing well in pre season.
United began the brighter with Norwich looking to defend in numbers and after Janko was dragged back on the right-wing United were unlucky not to take the lead as Pereira’s curling free kick was met by McNair a few yards out but his effort came back off the crossbar with the keeper beaten. United’s pressure paid off in the 14th minute as a typical driving run from Joe Rothwell took him past a couple of challenges on the edge of the box and he slightly over ran the ball which was picked up by Lawrence who back heeled the ball to Rothwell who did well to side step a challenge before shooting left footed and after the keeper parried his shot Lawrence was on hand to finish from close range to give United a 1-0 lead.
United were close to making it 2-0 in the 32nd minute as Varela’s low pass into the box found Pereira who spun brilliantly before shooting low with his left foot but the keeper did well to save low to his right and the follow-up was cleared for a corner. From the resulting corner United did make it 2-0 as Pereira played a short corner to Pearson and his curling cross was met with an emphatic downward header by McNair which gave the Norwich keeper no chance as it ended up in the bottom corner.
A two goal half time lead was the least United deserved as they completely dominated the first half with the midfield four of Pearson, Rothwell, Harrop and Pereira all impressing in different ways and dictating the game as they controlled the possession with the only blot being a booking for Harrop just before half time for a reckless high tackle which led to a bit of a scuffle with several players involved.
Warren Joyce took his opportunity to give another player a Barclays U21 Premier League debut at half time as Callum Evans replaced Goss as the left-wing back as United began the second half as they had the first with plenty of possession as Norwich struggled to deal with the speed of Janko and the dribbling of Harrop who both caused problems early on.
United struggled to create much in the second half with a blocked effort from Pereira following a one-two with Janko the only effort of the opening stages as Norwich grew into the game. A third goal was to come for United in the 76th minute and it was really worth waiting for as United patiently moved the ball around the Norwich area before it found it way to Janko down the right and he pulled the ball back to Harrop on the edge of the area who played a quick one-two with Rothwell before curling a brilliant left footed strike into the far top corner to make it 3-0. It was the last meaningful action of the game apart from a Barclays U21 Premier League debut for Ryan McConnell who replaced Thorpe in the 86th minute
Manchester United: J.Pereira; McNair, Thorpe (McConnell 87′), Goss (C.Evans 46′); Janko, Pearson, Rothwell (Weir 78′), Harrop, Varela; A.Pereira, Lawrence Substitutes Not Used: O’Hara, Willock