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United youngsters gain European experience against son of Ballon d'Or winner

While Manchester United faced off against Barcelona in the Europa League on Thursday night, the two clubs also arranged a friendly earlier in the day between their youth sides.

Among the opponents was João Mendes, the son of Barcelona legend Ronaldinho, who recently signed for the Spanish giants after a successful trial.

The Ballon d’Or winner’s son led the line for Barcelona as they ran out 3-1 victors.

It was an evenly contested match-up, with the score tied at 1-1 until the final five minutes of the match, when Barcelona scored from two late set pieces.

United were led out in the match by former Barcelona academy product Marc Jurado and the experienced head of Tom Huddlestone also featured in an unusual role at the heart of defence.

Ethan Williams scored for United in the first half with the score level going into the break.

Heavy rotation around the 70th minute mark saw a number of schoolboys enter the pitch for United including u15s Bendito Mantato and u16s Jacob Devaney, who made his first appearance at the level after recently returning from a long injury lay off.

Excited by the prospect of European exposure for United’s academy talent, head of academy Nick Cox said before the match “we are always looking to innovate and provide world-class experiences for our players.

“We have arranged this fixture to enhance our existing games programme, supplement our volume of fixtures and expose players to the types of experiences that they will have should they reach our first team.

“Coming up against a team of this quality is an amazing opportunity but the boys will also learn what it means to represent Manchester United in Europe.

“Playing in a different environment, a new stadium, maybe a different climate and against an alternative style of play is all part of their learning and development process.

“We’re all really looking forward to the game and the benefits it will provide to the group.”

United XI: Vitek, Jurado, Huddlestone, Aljofree, Murray, Collyer, Gore, Williams, Hansen-Aarøen, Forson, Hugill

latest man utd news
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