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Manchester United Res 2-0 Burnley Res: Owen Hargreaves makes long-awaited return

Owen Hargreaves

By Jason Mathias.

The long-awaited comeback of Owen Hargreaves began in earnest as he played 45 minutes for Manchester United’s reserves in a comfortable 2-0 win over Burnley.

The midfielder looked tidy and showed some touches of real class in his first competitive action for nearly 18 months. His return was just as much about the mental side as physical and he seemed to enjoy himself, making his presence felt in a trademark lung-busting way.

Manchester United’s goals came courtesy of Febian Brandy and Corry Evans in a game of few chances. Burnley fielded several first team squad members including Joey Gudjonsson, who blasted a free-kick against the bar at the quarter hour mark. Soon after United took the lead, Ollie Norwood’s free-kick was glanced into the net by the head of Brandy, the smallest player on the pitch. Perhaps Brandy has been watching a certain No.10 in the first team.

Hargreaves was replaced by Magnus Eikrem at the break, and the 2nd half started in ambitious fashion, with Gudjonsson trying to lob Ron-Robert Zieler straight from the kick off. The killer goal from United came in the 54th minute when Corry Evans, brother of Jonny, got on the end of a cross from Nicky Ajose.

From then on the game threatened to peter out. Burnley had once real chance when Zieler missed his punch from a corner and Eikrem was on hand to clear off the line. Substitute Scott Moffatt woke everyone up with a stunning volley from outside the box which was tipped onto the post in fine style by Burnley keeper Diego Penny. United played out the rest of the game, ensuring Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 50th game as manager ended in victory. The win leaves United 5 points clear of noisy neighbours City in the table. Liverpool are lurking 10 points behind with 5 games in hand.

Manchester United: Zieler, Brown, Dudgeon (Moffatt 65), Wooton, Gill, Evans, Norwood, Hargreaves (Eikrem 45), Possebon (Ajose 45), Stewart, Brandy

In other Reserve news, the nominees have been announced for the Reserves Player of the Year award. Ritchie De Laet, Oliver Gill and Magnus Eikrem will battle for the prize after all having successful seasons in the second string. Despite De Laet’s advances into the first team, I’d predict that Eikrem could walk away with it. After showing obvious talent but a lack of stature, the playmaker has come through a growth spurt and shown all his potential with some stunning goals and assists.

Danny Welbeck has been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury while on loan at Championship Preston. There he scored 2 goals in 8 appearances and it’s a shame for him because he was playing regularly and getting the experience he needs before becoming a fixture in the first team squad.  And finally, Reserve keeper Ben Amos has gone on loan to Norwegian side Molde, the same club Mame Biram Diouf was signed from. After making a couple of first team appearances in the Carling Cup and pre-season tours, Amos will be looking to establish himself and gain experience of first team football in a top division.

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