Manchester United’s youthful selection continued in their campaign at the U-19s Rewe Junior Cup on Saturday in the intermediate round having finished third in the initial group stage.
United’s first opponent was FK Austria Vienna, against whom the young Red Devils took an early two-goal lead.
But unfortunately it did not prove to be enough as the Austria side fought back and clinched the winner in the final seconds as United were caught out trying to switch keepers.
Despite the disappointing late loss, Ian Smithson, academy head of education, spoke after the match and expressed his delight at the experience and how how pleased the coaches were with the improvement shown by the players.
Smithson also said, “This is a must for us in our program. We have four squads in Germany this weekend in a variety of age-groups and we see this as a big part of our program for the whole experience.”
United’s second match of the day was against Dutch opponent’s AZ Alkmaar.
The much more physical and older side in AZ Alkmaar proved to be a tough opponent for United’s young players as they were easily shrugged out of possession at times.
Ultimately, the gap was too big to overcome as AZ Alkmaar comfortably won 3-0.
The two losses meant United were eliminated from the tournament and didn’t advance to the knockout stages.
The eventual winners of the cup were FK Austria Vienna who defeated English side Fulham 6-1 in the finals.
Despite the early exit, the tournament proved to be a good experience for United’s young players who received a taste of a different style of football while also getting the experience of playing against older and more physical opponents.
One United player in particular who shone throughout the tournament, earning high praise from the commentators despite his small stature, was 15-year-old Shea Lacey.
The young attacking midfielder scored a number of goals at the tournament including the one below where he showed an incredible amount of composure and skill to beat his defenders before dinking over the keeper.
Shea Lacey 🔥
🎥 IG/julivanrodriguez pic.twitter.com/DbFPW2G8ZB
— utdreport Academy (@utdreportAcad) January 6, 2023
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