Ratings: Garnacho brace and Bennett header won the FA Youth Cup; stand up for the Class of 22

At last, after 11 years, United have the FA Youth Cup pedigree in their academy once more

Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 at Old Trafford to list the FA Youth Cup for the 11th time in the clubs history. Rhys Bennett opened the scoring in the 13th minute before Forest equalised at the end of the half. Alejandro Garnacho scoring a brace in the second half to win it.

United started well in the FA Youth Cup final. Kobbie Mainoo got the first chance of the match with a good but of skill in the box but his effort was easily saved by the Forest goalkeeper. Daniel Gore showed some skill to recover the ball in the next minute, which got a roar from the crowd.

It was a fair game between these two sides. United won a free-kick in an advanced position with Sam Murray taking it. He found the head of Rhys Bennett, the captain of this side, scoring the opening goal in the 13th minute to put United into the lead.

In the next minute, Dale Taylor had a good effort on United’s goal with the side looking for an instant equaliser, but it did not happen for them. In the 19th minute, Justin Hanks headed just over the crossbar, which was a lucky miss from United’s perspective.

In the 27th minute, United had another good chance of the game with Isak Hansen-Aaröen putting a shot though, which was blocked. It could have been a great chance for United. Despite the early goal, Forest were giving United all they had and it was a pretty balanced match.

In the 35th minute, Alejandro Garnacho was down after a pretty strong challenge, but he was fine to continue. Just two minutes later, he was running into the box, showing his skills but hit his shot wide of the target, which would have been a pretty good goal for United, if it was scored.

Garnacho had another chance to curl a shot in from the edge of the box in the 41st minute of the match but again it was wide of the target. Forest found themselves level in the 43rd minute after Josh Powell beat Radek Vitek. It was a shame that he conceded that.

United would not have to settle for the draw at the end of the first half, seeking to change the game in the second half. Whatever happens for this team, they have shown hunger and determination to get this far in this competition. Many top players from the past have not won this cup.

The second half started without any substitutions for either side. In the second minute of the half, Vitek was down after receiving a knee to the face with a brave claim of the ball in his area. Despite Tom Wooster warming up on the sidelines, Vitek was able to continue.

United had another chance in the 51st minute though right-back Marc Jurado but his effort was saved easily by the Forest goalkeeper. Forest did seem to raise their game at the start of the second half, seemingly finding confidence after equalising just before the break.

It was starting to look like an even match between these two sides in the second half. Everything seemed to be matched between United and Forest. There were few chances for ether side with fatigue setting in, perhaps? This match would need to be won this evening.

In the 64th minute of the match, United made a double substitution with Maxi Oyedele and Joe Hugill replacing Isak Hansen-Aaröen and Charlie McNeill. It seemed that both players were largely ineffective at this stage of the match, hence the change.

Both United and Forest seemed to up the tempo after the substitution with Forest making their first change not too long after United’s. United won a penalty in the 76th minute of the match after Garnacho was fouled in the box. Zach Abbott was booked for the challenge.

On the replay, it seemed that the challenge was outside of the box, but the penalty was still given. Garnacho took the penalty and scored it for United, putting the home side 2-1 up on the evening with Forest needing to put the work in to get level, then seek a winner.

This was Garnacho’s sixth goal in the competition this season with Charlie McNeill scoring five, Sam Mather scoring three, Kobbie Mainoo scoring two and both Rhys Bennett and Maxi Oyedele scoring a goal each. There were 67,492 supporters at Old Trafford – a record-breaking attendance.

United made their final substitution of the match in the 86th minute with Sonny Aljofree replacing Sam Mather, who had been doing well but United needed to defend their lead to win this match, avoiding extra time, as the match needed to be won tonight – this is no longer a two legged final.

Forest made some changes in the final spell of the match with eight minutes added at the end of the half, which gives United more time to defend their lead. Garnacho went on a solo run in the 902nd minute of the match, seemingly looking to stretch United’s lead, but hitting it over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Garnacho did a similar run on goal again, this time scoring his second goal of the evening and his seventh of the competition. There was a slight deflection in from Pharrell Johnson, but the forward will get awarded the goal. Tempers were frayed minutes after the goal.

It was a great win for United and they did what they needed to do to beat Forest, who had stood their own, especially in the first half and at the start of the second. This is a United team that will seek to achieve things. There are players in this team who are first team material.

United now have the FA Youth Cup pedigree in their academy once again, 11 years after the last time and the Class of 22 looks determined to grab their careers by the scruff of the neck and achieve what they want to achieve. United were glorious at the Theatre of Dreams on a magical night.

Player Ratings

Radek Vitek: Looked to be determined to ensure United won this match. Conceded a tough goal at the end of the first half and suffered a knee in the face early in the second half. The Forest goal spoiled what could have been a brilliant evening for Vitek. ★★★★★

Marc Jurado: He did what a United fullback needs to be doing; helping the attacking players out and getting the ball behind the defensive line to cause problems and chances for the attackers. He did just that and will be pleased with his performance and the win. ★★★★★★

Louis Jackson: A late starter for this match but he did what was needed for his team. A younger player than his teammates but he did what was expected and coped pretty well. He could well face Forest again this weekend in the final U18 Premier League match of the season. ★★★★★★

Rhys Bennett: A captain’s performance. Scored the opening goal of the game, rising to a set-piece and finding the back of the net in true captain’s style. What a great goal. He will be thrilled with the passion, desire, determination and everything else he gave this season. ★★★★★★★★

Sam Murray: Got the assist for the opening goal with a great free-kick which found Bennett’s head easily. He was combative throughout the match, putting in some very good tackles and showing the United determination to grind out the victory, especially at 1-1. ★★★★★★★

Kobbie Mainoo: One of the best midfielders at the club in his age range. He showed his skills against this Forest side. He was really one of the players to watch in this team and will be one to watch for the future too. Erik ten Hag will be thrilled watching him. ★★★★★★★★

Daniel Gore: Put himself about the pitch a bit and offered a lot of energy throughout the match. He put in a brilliant recovery tackle in the first half, which showed the type of midfielder he will become. He will be tired this evening, especially after his rally which helped inspire United. ★★★★★★★

Sam Mather: He put in the effort against Forest and did a lot of the work which allowed some of his teammates to shine in the match. He was full of energy when he had the ball, which was great to see. He will be seeking to make the first team. Replaced by Aljofree. ★★★★★★

Isak Hansen-Aaröen: Seemed to be up for the challenge of Forest in the early stages of the match and played some good football at times. However, in the second half, it seemed that he was ineffective therefore he was replaced by Oyedele. ★★★★★★

Alejandro Garnacho: Had five goals in this competition before this final. Quiet in the first half, but did what he needed to. He was bright in the second half, winning a penalty that probably wasn’t a penalty, scoring his second goal in added time to win the match for United. ★★★★★★★★

Charlie McNeill: He has scored bags of goals for United since he arrived from City but in this match, despite his scoring five goals in this competition so far, he was seen as ineffective against Forest and was also replaced, with Hugill getting his chance instead. ★★★★★★


Maxi Oyedele: Replaced Hansen-Aaröen 64′. His work rate helped United to battle with Forest and eventually take the bull by the horns and win the match, which is exactly what they ended up doing. He is a bright player and might have perhaps started the match this evening. ★★★★★★

Joe Hugill: Replaced McNeill 64′. He pressed Forest, especially in the run up to the penalty, which was probably a harsh one for Forest. He may not have scored in this match, or in this competition this season, but it shows the player he could become. ★★★★★★★

Sonny Aljofree: Replaced Mather 86′. He did not spend all that much time on the pitch in all honesty, four minutes plus added time. It was not enough for him to get much involvement in the match but he played his part in the victory never the less. ★★★★★

Goals: Rhys Bennett 13′, Alejandro Garnacho 78′ penalty, 90+4′; Josh Powell 43′

Assists: Sam Murray 13′

Manchester United: Vitek; Jurado, Bennett, Jackson, Murray; Mainoo, Gore; Mather (Aljofree 86′), Hansen-Aaröen (Oyedele 64′), Garnacho; McNeil (Hugill 64′)

Substitutes Not Used: Wooster, Pye, Forson, Ennis

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.