Bolton Wanderers 0 Manchester United 4
A vastly superior United team brushed aside Bolton to move into the final of the Manchester Senior Cup. It was a fine performance from the Reds that aptly illustrated the depth of the reservoir of young talent available to David Moyes in the future, and in some cases possibly earlier than that. Indeed, if the first team from Saturday need a lesson in how to play a passing game at pace, they could do worse than watch a recording of this match.
The Reds’ starting line-up contained Zaha, Januzaj and Fabio and the team looked a class above Bolton from the start, going ahead in ninety seconds with a superb finish from Will Keane, who continued to make up for lost time from last season with another impressive display up front. Zaha and Januzaj constantly tormented the opposition defence who had little answer and only some fine goalkeeping from Joe Lynch kept the score down. Zaha alternated between firing in expertly timed crosses and moving inside to try for goal himself. Januzaj excelled in a free role behind Keane, probing the Bolton rearguard with the kind of passing the first team have been sorely missing of late.
Cole forced a superb save out of the keeper after 27 minutes and a shot from Zaha, after he’d taken the ball from within his own half, rattled the crossbar soon after. After thirty minutes, another fizzing shot from Cole was turned aside by Lynch and just before half-time the keeper made another excellent stop to turn Januzaj’s shot around the post to keep the margin at 1-0 at the break despite the gulf between the two sides.
United went close again with a header from Thorpe early in the second half before Januzaj struck: coming in from the right he fired a brilliantly placed shot with his left into the top right hand corner that any keeper would have struggled to keep out. Soon after it was three, a Januzaj corner finding Zaha completely unmarked in the area, a position from which he made no mistake. Job done, Januzaj was substituted on the hour mark. United continued to impress, however, and added to the total when Cole supplied a precision finish to grab a deserved goal three minutes from time.
Undoubtedly, many of the observations following this match will focus on Januzaj’s individual contribution as well as his ability to influence play, and rightly so. There’ll also be much pleasure expressed about Zaha and his undoubted potential. But there were many other positives: Cole was industrious and carried a constant threat; James looked agile and rarely misplaced a pass; there were tidy performances, when called upon, from both central defenders and from Charni in the holding role in midfield. They provided reasons to be cheerful following eight days in which optimism has been in short supply.
Watch Adnan Januzaj’s wonder strike against Bolton Wanderers here.