Tuesday 11 December 2012
Manchester United booked their place in the Elite Group Stage of the Barclays U21 Premier League after claiming victory over Aston Villa at Hinckley United.
The result means they complete the first part of the campaign in second place in Group 2 on 20 points, level on points with leaders Tottenham Hotspur and two points clear of third-placed Villa.
United are through because even if Villa beat Tottenham Hotspur in their final match next week, they have a superior points tally to Chelsea's 18 in Group 3 meaning they would qualify to the Elite Group Stage as the best third-placed team.
Villa, watched by first-team manager Paul Lambert, started the match brightly with Daniel Johnson, Andras Stieber and Graham Burke all having chances.
United improved after the break, however, and took the lead seven minutes into the second period when Bebe drove into the heart of Villa's defence before lashing a shot past goalkeeper Calum Barrett.
Federico Macheda made sure of the victory two minutes from time, thumping home after a through ball from Davide Petrucci for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Villa now need to avoid defeat by Tottenham in their final group match at Villa Park on Monday to make it through to the Elite Group Stage.
Sunderland brought Tottenham's five-match winning streak to an end as they came from behind to edge victory at the Academy of Light.
Spurs, for whom Scott Parker made an appearance on his long recovery from an Achilles problem, had averaged 4.57 goals a game in their last seven sorties and looked on course for another free-scoring afternoon when Christian Ceballos weaved in from the right to rifle a left-footed drive into the top corner on 18 minutes.
But Kevin Ball's side responded swiftly as Ryan Noble, back from a loan spell at Hartlepool, headed in Adam Mitchell's corner from eight yards out. Seven minutes before the interval the Black Cats took the lead from another Mitchell set piece, with defender Connor Oliver this time connecting with the forward’s corner.
Although substitute Sully Coulibaly twice came close for the Londoners, the hosts held on for a win which takes them into fourth place in Group 2. Tottenham’s defeat means they must avoid losing to Aston Villa on Monday to finish top of their pool.
"That was a fantastic all-round football performance from Sunderland,” Ball told the club's official website. "We were patient with lots of chasing and created many chances. It was a great way to round off this part of the campaign."
Monday, 10 December, 2012
Aston Villa 0-2 Manchester United
Sunderland 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Norwich City v West Ham United, Colney Training Centre, 1pm
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur, Villa Park, 7pm
Southampton v Newcastle United, Eastleigh FC, 7pm
Manchester City v Fulham, Hyde FC, 2pm
For all the fixtures and the latest league tables, click here