Norwich City Under-23s suffered a 2-0 defeat against Manchester United U23s in the Premier League 2 on Friday.
Norwich were pressing high early on, often finding the ball in United’s box, however they struggled to make anything of it in the opening minutes. The closest chance in the first ten minutes led to a scuffled save by Grant in the Red Devils goal.
As the players settled in, United started to look more dangerous. Crosses into the Canaries box had to be hastily cleared from any form of threat that the reds possessed.
A controversial foul saw a dangerous free kick given in United’s favour, just outside City’s box. This resulted in an effort from distance for Arnau Puigmal, who saw the ball slip barely wide of City’s goal, leaving a daunting warning for the Yellows of Man Utd’s capabilities.
As the first half progressed, Norwich were looking comfortable, finding good positions of play and opening space to attack United. Although the Canaries lacked the finishing touch in the final third, it shook Man United, who at times found themselves out of position and lacking possession.
United’s only real chance since the first 15 minutes came by way of Anthony Elanga, who capitalised on a City mistake and made a run into space left by the Canaries. However, this opportunity was seen out by Louis Lomas, saving Norwich from a potentially risky situation.
A dazzling run filled with quick, short passes meant that Aliou Traore found a tight angle for United, taking a shot at what space he could aim for. Fortunately for Norwich, Lomas didn’t give the midfielder much room to work with, and a good comfortable save by Archie Mair kept the scores even.
As the end of the first half approached, a dangerous free kick was called on the edge of the young Canaries box, delivered by James Garner for United. This effort was deflected off the wall but fell to the feet of a red shirt. A scuffed shot saw the ball just shy of the goal, saving Norwich from a goal deficit in the 40th minute.
In the final five minutes of the first half, the Red’s efforts paid off. A run down the wing and a cross from Reece Devine fell to the feet of Garner, who slotted it home for United. This effort was sure to raise the spirits of the Red Devils, who needed to find their form from previous games.
United thought they found a second goal in the last minute of the first-half, but a foul conceded by the Manchester side on Mair had the goal ruled out by the referee. Nail-biting stuff for City, who held on until the whistle sealed the end of the first-half.
City clearly meant business in the second-half, with a shot barely spilled wide by the finger tips of Lee Grant in the opening minute. The energy wasn’t so mutual from United, who seemed laid back and unphased by the press.
Continuing this press, Josh Martin tried his luck outside the box, the first real effort from distance for the Canaries. The shot looked promising, barely scathing the post with the keeper miles off.
After the first ten minutes, United finally started getting into gear. It seemed as if the Norwich efforts reminded them the game wasn’t yet over, with a powerful shot from Largie Ramazani testing Mair’s reactions, just about finding it’s way to the gloves of the Norwich keeper.
Most of Norwich’s efforts in the second half came from outside the box, a free kick from Thomas Scully about 25 yards away found itself curling away from the goal, just about missing the target.
Elanga made a fashionable run into the box beating Jordan Thomas, who then dragged him down, conceding a penalty in the home teams’ favour. Ramazani saw the penalty driven in the bottom left corner, beating Mair, who dove to the right. A second goal for United, tallying it up to 2-0 by the 68th minute.
Two bookings to Man United players within ten minutes frustrated Norwich, who still couldn’t find their finishing in the final third. A shame, as should they have been more clinical, the score may have looked very different.
In the last ten minutes, the game seemed very different to the start of the second-half, with United pressuring Norwich consistently. Quite the inverse to how the second-half began, it seems something clicked for United. Although the attacks kept coming, the defence was solid, with stand-out man Akin Famewo stifling any effort from the home side.
The only meaningful effort the Reds had from the 70th minute came by way of Ramazani, who was put on goal by substitute Mark Helm. The run seemed offside but the linesman was unmoved, and a solid save by Mair saved the young Canaries from another goal, ending the game at an unfortunate 2-0 score in the home side’s favour.
Manchester United: Grant, Puigmal, Mengi, Bernard, Devine, Garner (c), Traore, McGhee (Helm, 63), Galbraith, Elanga, Ramazani
Subs not used: Fish, Kovar, Wellens, Hoogewarf
Goals: Garner (41), Ramazani (68 pen)
Bookings: Bernard, Mengi, Ramazani
Norwich City: Mair, Thomas, Nizet, Lomas, Famewo (c), Milovanovic, Martin (Hondermarck, 82), Scully, Ahadme, Thorvaldsson, Adshead (Parsons, 75)
Subs not used: Jones, Johnson, Omobamidele
Bookings: Milovanovic, Thomas
Referee: Andrew Miller
Kick off time: 7.00pm
Venue: Leigh Sports Village