MAN UTD U18 3, NOTTM FOREST U18 1
While the senior side has endured a miserable season, Manchester United’s youth team, the class of 2022, provided a feel-good factor by lifting the FA Youth Cup for the first time in 11 years.
It was a joyous night at Old Trafford where the Reds defeated Nottingham Forest in front of a crowd of 67,192, a record for the competition.
Two goals from Spanish-born Argentine Alejandro Garnacho and another from captain and Tameside teenager Rhys Bennett gave United an 11th victory in the competition from 15 finals with Class of 92 members Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt watching from the stands.Embed from Getty Images
Youth-team coach Travis Binnion was delighted with his side, saying: “It was really hard, but cup finals should be hard.
“Everyone could see why Forest were unbeaten in 13 and when 1-1 it was nip and tuck and won on a moment and we felt the game would be won late on by either side.
“We have found so many ways to win on the run, and the lads will want more and more.”
Binnion praised Garnacho, 17, who has already featured in the first team, for his coolness taking the penalty when it was 1-1.
“If the boy had been in any stadium in the world, he would not have cared. That is why so many of them are going to have good careers,” he said.
Binnion added the lads were desperate to play at Old Trafford saying he could not believe the size of the crowd.
“When we asked, it was more than the previous time and then it reached 50,000 and kept going up each day,” he said.
Fans took advantage of the offer of £1 per ticket to swell the gate surpassing all expectations.
United took a 13th minute lead through a glancing header by centre-back Bennett from eight yards from Sam Murray’s free kick.
Forest goalkeeper Aaron Bott got a strong hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out.
Forest were a threat and in the opening 20 minutes carved out three decent chances as Jamie McDonnell and Justin Hanks both headed narrowly wide while an acrobatic overhead kick by Dale Taylor was well saved by Radek Vitek.
United had a chance to increase their lead when the club’s young player of the year Alejandro Garnacho bent a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Forest were level one minute before the break when Joshua Powell’s weak drive from the edge of the box squirmed through the grasp of Vitek and trickled over the line.
It was an agonising moment for the keeper as the television cameras panned on to first-team stopper David De Gea who was in the crowd.
United had a spell of intense pressure soon after the restart but were unable to find a route to goal, Marc Jurado forcing a diving save from Bott.
They regained the lead with 11 minutes left through a Garnacho penalty.
Forest were caught playing the ball out from the back as centre back Zach Abbott’s poor touch allowed Garnacho to burst through only to be fouled by the player who was booked.
Referee Josh Smith pointed to the spot, but replays suggested the contact was outside the box. There was no VAR, however, to make a definitive ruling.
Garnacho stepped up to send Bott the wrong way firing home low from the spot.
Then in the fourth of eight added minutes, Garnacho struck again with a fabulous solo effort to seal victory.
His weaving run into the penalty area ended with a shot which found the net with the aid of a huge deflection off Pharrell Johnson.
It sparked massive celebrations as the Reds knew they were cup winners and they continued after the final whistle and probably long into the night.