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Manchester United defeated Nottingham Forest 3-1 to win the FA Youth Cup in front of a whopping 60,000 crowd at Old Trafford. Alejandro Garnacho, a recent first-team debutant, struck a late brace to see off Forest.
United had led through Rhys Bennett’s header but Josh Powell equalised. Garnacho won and scored a penalty late in the game before adding a third in added-time.
Incoming boss Erik ten Hag has a reputation for developing young players and will no doubt be aware of the wealth of talent in the Red Devils’ academy. Express Sport looks at five players who fans could see feature for under Ten Hag in the coming years.
“We know what this means to the club and means to us,” Bennett told Express Sport in the build-up to this game. The captain scored the opening goal with a deft header.
The 18-year-old defended well after his goal, with Forest’s equaliser instead coming via a bad error from goalkeeper Radek Vitek. Bennett lifted the trophy, becoming the first United player to do so since Tom Thorpe in 2011.
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Mainoo was one of United’s best performers at Old Trafford. A skilful, box-to-box midfielder, the 17-year-old has also been capped by England at youth level.
His height, driving midfield runs and No. 6 shirt make comparisons with first-team star Paul Pogba easy to make. Mainoo would do well to have a similar career to the Frenchman.
Mainoo has broken into United’s U23 squad this season but has made just four Premier League 2 appearances. He has instead spent most of his time with the U18s, playing 26 times and contributing four goals.
Garnacho has already made major headlines this season having been called up by the Argentina senior team for their latest international fixtures. He has also made his first-team debut for the Red Devils.
The 17-year-old trained alongside Lionel Messi with Argentina. He then played the final minute of United’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea earlier this month. Ralf Rangnick has said he also hoped to give the teenager more game time in other matches.
Garnacho won and confidently dispatched a penalty to make the score 2-1 before twisting and turning to score a deflected third.
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A promising attacking midfielder, Hansen-Aeroen might have hoped to make more of an impact in this fixture. The 17-year-old showed glimpses of his excellent technical ability, especially with one tricky run in the opening few minutes.
The Norwegian was signed from Tromso two years ago, and the youngster had already played for the club’s senior team. He is yet to make a matchday squad with United’s first team but could provide a solid option for the attacking midfield role in the coming years.
Another player who struggled to light up this particular game but McNeill has had an excellent couple of years in the academy. The 18-year-old has had quite the journey through the system – playing for Liverpool, United and Manchester City before re-joining the Old Trafford outfit in October 2020.
McNeill dropped down to the U18s for this game having spent most of the season playing for the U23s. He has scored 17 goals across both age groups this season, including five FA Youth Cup strikes.
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