Manchester United’s u18s hosted Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Youth Cup semi final last night with a crowd of over 6,000 at Old Trafford.
Early pressure from United saw them win a string of corners in the opening minutes.
The early dominance paved the way for a breakthrough strike in the 15th minute from Charlie McNeill. A lovely ball over the top from Isak Hansen-Aaroen enticed the keeper to charge out, but McNeill was first to it and knocked it by before scoring into the open net from a wide angle.
Wolves looked to hit back quickly after Rhys Bennett couldn’t fully clear an incoming free kick, but their follow up attempt was smashed into the side netting.
United almost doubled the lead in the 25th when McNeill raced down the left and crossed low for an open Alejandro Garnacho at the back post to tap home but the Wolves keeper made an unbelievable save to deny the winger.
In the 31st minute, Sam Murray delivered a dangerous cross into the box which the Wolves defenders couldn’t deal with and it fell to Garnacho who was denied by a goal-line block. But the chance wasn’t gone as it bounced out to Hansen-Aaroen for a second bite, however the Norwegian couldn’t keep his effort on target.
United were all over Wolves and broke them down again a minute later as Garnacho ran at his man down the left before chipping a ball to the back post for McNeill to volley. But the striker’s shot flashed across the goal and wide.
Wolves biggest danger man, Tyler Roberts, looked to cause United some trouble with his pace but he couldn’t find the finish and struck just wide from 18 yards.
Moments before the break, Wolves almost equalised after a long ball wasn’t cleared and landed to Nathan Fraser, who lobbed Radek Vitek with a deft effort that hit the post.
United went in 1-0 up at the half time break but could have easily been up by more, leaving themselves in a dangerous position as Wolves were beginning to pose a threat on the counter with their pace.
The second half saw United continue to create chances but they couldn’t find the finish, as Kobbie Mainoo slid McNeill in behind the backline but the usually clinical striker soared his effort over the bar.
United finally hit the back of the net for a second time in the 58th minute. After winning possession in midfield, a quick two on two break was launched but Garnacho decided to go himself, cutting in from the left and curling the ball inside the right post.
A wonderful driving run from Mainoo opened space to find Garnacho open on the left and the Spaniard tried to switch to McNeill for an easy chance but he executed the pass wrongly, sending it out for a goal kick.
Garnacho almost added to his tally in the 83rd after Hansen-Aaroen delicately slipped the ball into his path but he sent it just inches wide of the left post.
In the dying minutes, United put the nail in the coffin with a third and no surprise it was McNeill and Garnacho in the thick of the action again. Mainoo won possession and chipped a ball to Garnacho, whose shot was stopped, but McNeill pounced on the rebound to finish off the match.
United will now host the final at Old Trafford in April against the winners of Chelsea and Nottingham Forest.
United: Vitek; Jurado, Bennett (c), Fredricson, Murray; Mainoo, Gore; Mather (Oyedele 63), Hansen-Aaroen (Forson 91), Garnacho; McNeill (Hugill 91).
Unused subs: Kambwala, Wooster, Pye, Norkett.
Our player ratings for this match are available here.