Manchester United hosted a sell-out crowd at Old Trafford as their under-18s won 3-1 to pip Nottingham Forest to the FA Youth Cup.
Just shy of 70,000 fans, which included an equally as impressive away end in support of Forest, watched on as the two sides played out an even contest in the first half.
The evening couldn’t have started any better for United as captain Rhys Bennett headed the young Red Devils ahead after just 11 minutes, but Forest responded well and ramped up the pressure. That pressure resulted in a timely equaliser when Joshua Powell’s shot forced an error out of United goalkeeper Radek Vitek, just two minutes before the half-time whistle.
Old Trafford remained in fine voice heading into the second half as the two talented sides continued to trade blows. Both teams had chances to take the lead in an evenly poised cup final, but United‘s attacking talent struggled to break beyond a resilient Forest defence, resulting in a quiet night at the office for star striker Charlie McNeill.
Alejandro Garnacho’s showstopping FA Youth Cup performance for Man Utd
As the game drew on and became more open, however, it was time for heroes. To the delight of United fans, that hero was none other than Alejandro Garnacho.
The attacker has starred for United at varying levels this season. So much so, his form with the under-18s and 23s earned him a call-up to the senior Argentina squad earlier in 2022, where he rubbed shoulders with none other than Lionel Messi.
Having ripped up the FA Youth Cup throughout the campaign, the stage was set for Garnacho to impress in front of a full crowd, especially having being named the winner of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award earlier on in the day.
With all that pressure on his shoulders, it would’ve been easy for him to fold. But the opposite happened. Garnacho showed his quality as he won a penalty with 15 minutes to play, capitalising on poor play at the back from Forest.
Of course, it was him who stepped up to take the spot kick, and with Old Trafford watching, he restored United’s lead in composed fashion, before sealing the victory with his second of the night in injury time, ensuring the Red Devils wound up 3-1 winners and FA Youth Cup champions once again.
What really made Old Trafford roar, though, was Garnacho’s celebration after bagging the penalty to make it 2-1. Heading over to the corner flag at the Stretford End, the teenager paid homage to his teammate – and five-time Ballon d’Or winner – Ronaldo, hitting his infamous ‘SIUU’ celebration.
It was a moment that brought a wry smile to the face of every United fan watching, while the stadium erupted with a ‘SIUU’ of their own as Garnacho jumped and spun around in true Ronaldo fashion.
You can watch the video of the brilliant moment here:
Alejandro Garnacho scores from the spot and pulls out the SIU celebration 🔥 pic.twitter.com/hs8uBTMkOe— utdreport Academy (@utdreportAcad) May 11, 2022
Commiserations go out to Forest, who played an excellent game of football and were unfortunate to concede a contentious penalty.
United won’t be dwelling on that, though, as they made history in a night that will never be forgotten for the young stars who won such a storied trophy in front of a near-full Old Trafford.
And for Garnacho, United fans will watch in hope that his brace is merely the first of many in front of the Stretford End for years to come, having carved a pretty clear path to the first-team with yet another stellar performance.