Manchester United under-23 team picked up a crucial 3-1 win over Sunderland in the Premier League 2 on Monday.
After a rotten run of form, the Red Devils had slid down the table and into a relegation battle. However, this confident performance pushes them two points clear of the bottom two with four games remaining.
Elsewhere, Liverpool moved up into third place after thumping Reading 5-1 away from home. Chelsea, meanwhile, missed the chance to move into the top four, as they were held to a 0-0 draw away at Southampton.
Here are the results in full from another absorbing night in Premier League 2 and a closer examination of how the action panned out.
|Premier League 2 2016-17: Monday Results and Schedule|
|Monday, March 6||7 p.m.||Derby County U23 0-0 Leicester City U23|
|Monday, March 6||7 p.m.||Newcastle United U23 1-2 Norwich U23|
|Monday, March 6||7 p.m.||Reading U23 1-5 Liverpool U23|
|Monday, March 6||7 p.m.||Southampton U23 0-0 Chelsea U23|
|Monday, March 6||7 p.m.||Sunderland U23 1-3 Manchester United U23|
|Monday, March 6||7 p.m.||West Bromwich Albion U23 0-1 Swansea City U23|
|Monday, March 6||7 p.m.||Wolves U23 1-2 Aston Villa U23|
|Tuesday, March 7||7 p.m.||West Ham United U23 vs. Stoke City U23|
|Saturday, March 11||2 p.m.||Stoke City U23 vs. Norwich City U23|
|Sunday, March 12||12 p.m.||Sunderland U23 vs. Leicester City U23|
|Premier League 2 2016-17: Standings|
|2||Manchester City U23||18||11||5||2||41||24||+17||38|
|7||Manchester United U23||18||5||5||8||21||31||-10||20|
|8||Tottenham Hotspur U23||18||5||4||9||25||33||-8||19|
|10||Derby County U23||18||4||6||8||25||34||-9||18|
|12||Leicester City U23||17||4||5||8||22||34||-12||17|
|1||Swansea City U23||19||15||0||4||35||19||+16||45|
|4||Newcastle United U23||19||9||3||7||29||29||+0||30|
|5||West Ham United U23||18||8||4||6||26||22||+4||28|
|6||Aston Villa U23||19||7||5||7||32||30||+2||26|
|7||Blackburn Rovers U23||18||7||4||7||18||21||-3||25|
|9||West Brom U23||17||5||3||9||20||23||-3||18|
|11||Norwich City U23||18||4||3||11||15||29||-14||15|
|12||Stoke City U23||16||3||5||8||19||26||-7||14|
After three defeats in a row, Nicky Butt was likely demanding a reaction from his United players. So he must have been delighted to see the youngsters turn in one of the best halves of football they’ve played all season.
They took the lead from the spot in the 28th minute after former United man Donald Love felled Josh Harrop. Demetri Mitchell coolly dispatched the spot kick from 12 yards.
They quickly had a second, too, with Scott McTominay’s deflected, long-range effort wrong-footing Maksymilian Stryjek in the Black Cats goal.
As the Academy Man Utd Twitter feed noted at the break, it’s been rare for the team to be so ruthless in front of goal:
Sunderland did apply some pressure in the second period, but the away side stood firm and eventually extended their lead through Devonte Redmond. The only blemish on a positive night for United was a late red card for Regan Poole and a consolatory penalty for the Black Cats from George Honeyman.
Liverpool’s youngsters were impressive from the off against Reading, as they strengthened their grip on third place.
Joe Gomez put the visitors ahead, before two goals from Rhian Brewster, either side of a Joseph Mendes penalty for the Royals, made it 3-1 at half time. As noted by Neil Jones of the Liverpool Echo, the game was very open and as a result, the Reds’ superior quality was showing:
Their dominance continued into the second period too, with Ben Woodburn capping off a slick counter-attack for the Reds to make it 4-1. There was even some time for centre-back Nat Phillips to get on the scoresheet to round off a comprehensive performance from Liverpool.
The win for the Reds saw them leapfrog Arsenal into the top three and move four points clear of Chelsea. That’s after the young Blues were left frustrated during a 0-0 draw against Southampton at St Mary’s.
The home side fielded a strong XI, including first-team players like Jay Rodriguez, Jake Hesketh and Josh Sims; Martin Caceres, a recent arrival on a free transfer, also made an appearance.
That showed throughout the match, as the Blues’ comparatively younger outfit were pinned back for portions of the game. Rodriguez, Hesketh and Sims all had opportunities for Saints, although they were unable to break the deadlock.
There was another 0-0 draw between Derby County and Leicester City, a result that does little to help either side as they strive to move away from the bottom three. The draw and other outcomes on Monday mean there are just four points separating Sunderland in sixth spot and Leicester, who are bottom of the pile.