Manchester United academy graduates proved to be the driving force behind their team’s 3-2 comeback victory over Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
While United went 2-0 down in the first half after conceding two soft goals, the team picked themselves up fairly soon after, ramping up their attacking efforts and scoring three goals in the second half to make an unlikely comeback and thereby end what has been a poor run of form.
Eight United academy graduates featured in the game, with some of them making all the difference as United clinched three points.
Hannibal, Rashford, Garnacho, Evans, Scott, Gore, Kambwala, Mainoo. 8 academy products contributing tonight.
— UnitedMuppetiers (@Muppetiers) December 26, 2023
Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho, Jonny Evans, and Kobbie Mainoo all started against Villa, while Hannibal Mejbri, Scott McTominay, Dan Gore, and Willy Kambwala all came off the bench.
At the heart of United’s comeback was Garnacho, who showed his clinical finishing ability.
While the 19 year old’s goal soon after the second-half kick-off was ruled offside, he continued to show mental resilience, not allowing his disappointment to get the best of him.
The Argentine’s grit paid off as he scored two goals to draw United level with 19 minutes left to play.
Mainoo was another decent performer, showing composure in the midfield to aid United’s buildup play, while Rashford showed his desire to solidify his place back in the starting lineup with an aggressive attacking display.
Although United’s vulnerability in defence during the first half certainly raised a few eyebrows, veteran centre-back Jonny Evans was instrumental in preventing the home side from conceding further goals.
Evans’ goal-line block was one of several occasions when the 35 year old came to United’s rescue, proving that he still has what it takes to provide stability in defence.
While Hannibal, Gore and Kambwala were all late substitutes, they all showed composure by retaining the ball and shutting down the Villa attack in order to hold on to claim the victory.
If there’s one thing that was proven in what could potentially be United’s turning point this season, it’s that there is plenty of talent from United’s academy that Erik ten Hag can draw from in order to build a highly-capable squad.
With so many academy graduates excelling and numerous recent transfers continuing to struggle, perhaps Ten Hag should reassess his transfer strategy while also reconsidering his squad selection going forward.