The Red Devils eased past Canaries on Leigh Sports Village Friday night, through a comfortable 3-0 victory. Ben Pearson was probably the star performer, as he ran the show from midfield, despite not writing his name on the scoresheet.
Only seven minutes into the game, Saidy Janko had his shirt pulled and got handed a free-kick. Andreas Pereira curled it into the box, and McNair slid in to rattle the crossbar.
Just before the 14-minute mark, Joe Rothwell manufactured the attack to put United in front. He dribbled past a couple of defenders before co-operation with Lawrence set him up for a shot. Norwich’s keeper saved it, but Lawrence had no problems of making an end product of the rebound from close range.
The next fifteen minutes went by without much to notice within any of the boxes. Yet United delivered some very neat passing football where credit goes to Rothwell and Pearson in particular. Norwich struggled to even get possession on an occasional basis.
32 minutes ito it, United were handed a corner after a decent finish by Pereira. The Belgian played a short pass to Pearson, who crossed in like some Leytonstone-born lad who used to play for United, and Paddy McNair rose into the air before heading it relentlessly into the bottom corner.
Straight after the goal, Joyce shuffled the deck a little bit. The left wing back Varela went to right centre back, Goss took his position out wide left and McNair was moved to left centre back.
Four minutes before the break, Rothwell and Pereira combined well. The former got on a run from deep, one-two-passed it to Pereira, but was unable to pull off a sufficient finish.
Norwich got to their first shot on target after 42 minutes, when Jacob Murphy pulled the trigger from outside the box. However, Joel Pereira had no problems to cope, as the shot had «indangerous» written all over it.
Just on the brink of half time, Joshua Harropp was booked. A slight controversy appeared in the wake of him rushing into a sliding tackle, clearly unfancied by Norwich. Some pushing and pulling appeared, before United’s number eleven got the booking.
United made one subsitution at half time, with Callum Evans replacing Sean Goss in the three-man back line.
Football is a game of two halves, and this was another example of it. As the 75 minute mark was surpassed, the scoreline was still 2-0 and both sides struggled to create the biggest chances. Norwich saw a little bit more of possession in this half as well, despite not offering any threats to Joel Pereira’s clean sheet.
15 minutes from time, United put the nail in the Norwich coffin. Let’s not rush into things, but mentioning goal of the season and that goal in the same sentence must be somewhere near legit. Lawrence found Janko, who pulled it back for Harrop. The latter played a one-two with Rothwell and curled it into the far corner.
The most noteworthy part of the dying minutes of the game was U18 graduate Ryan McConnell replacing Tom Thorpe with three minutes to play. Tom Lawrence was handed the armband and McConnell took place in the heart of the defence. The 18-year-old centre back wasn’t really challenged, but kept his composure and played some simple passes around.
United go top of the U21 Premier League. The other three results were Chelsea turning early struggle into a 2-1 win against Man City, Derby wrapping up a 2-1 triumph against Middlesbrough and Arsenal successfully claiming all three points by a 1-0 scoreline at Reading.
Janko, McNair, Thorpe (87), Goss (45), Varela
Pearson Rothwell (80)
United subs: O’Hara, Weir (80), C. Evans (45), Willock, McConnell (87)