Alejandro Garnacho fired Manchester United to their first FA Youth Cup win since 2011 as Nottingham Forest were edged out in front of a record-breaking crowd at Old Trafford.
There were 67,492 in attendance for Wednesday’s final, smashing the competition’s previous record of 38,187. The Red Devils‘ teenagers provided a much-needed boost at the end of a wretched season for the club.
Amid a superb atmosphere nearly doubling the previous attendance record (38,187 in 2007), Garnacho’s second-half brace proved decisive after an enthralling encounter. He converted a controversial penalty despite replays showing the foul was clearly outside the box, adding a deflected strike in injury time to extend United’s lead as the winningest team in the competition.
While United’s senior stars have laboured through a dismal campaign that sees them languishing in sixth place in the Premier League, the crop of youngsters emerging from the club’s academy could provide a brighter future.
Alejandro Garnacho was the hero for United’s Under-18 side as they beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 to win their first FA Youth Cup since 2011.
A trademark celebration
One of the highlights of the game came on 78 minutes when Garnacho scored a penalty to put United back into the lead before running off and mimicking Ronaldo’s SIU celebration.
Ronaldo’s celebration has followed him throughout his career at Real Madrid and Juventus and has become synonymous with his CR7 brand.
Although United won the Youth Cup comfortably in the end, Garnacho’s penalty was much needed, with the sides still deadlocked 12 minutes before the end.
The Class of ’22
Manchester United started the brighter of the two teams, with midfielder Kobbie Mainoo dribbling into the box and forcing a close-range save from Aaron Bott. After a couple of Forest chances, United took the lead in the 13th minute, when captain Rhys Bennett met an inswinging Sam Murray free-kick with a powerful header that Bott couldn’t keep out of the net.
Former United manager Alex Ferguson was in the stands to cheer on the youngsters alongside ex-players Bryan Robson and Michael Carrick, as well as David de Gea, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes from Ralf Rangnick’s current squad.
A banner reading the ‘Class of 22’ was held up in the Stretford End at full-time.
Although it is too soon to compare this generation to United’s famous ‘Class of 92’ featuring David Beckham, Paul Scholes and the Neville brothers, for one night at least fans could dream of better days to come.