Alejandro Garnacho fired Manchester United for their first FA Youth Cup victory since 2011 as Nottingham Forest were edged out in front of a record crowd at Old Trafford.
There were 67,492 in attendance for Wednesday’s final, beating the competition’s previous record of 38,187, as United’s teenagers provided a much-needed boost at the end of a miserable season for the club.
Captain Rhys Bennett’s opener was canceled when Joshua Powell’s shot beat Radek Vitek too easily just before half-time, but Travis Binnion’s U18s were not to be denied.
Garnacho replicated Cristiano Ronaldo’s celebration after firing home a penalty – wrongly awarded as he was fouled by Zach Abbott outside the box – and hitting a stoppage-time effort deflected to seal a 3-1 win.
The 17-year-old made his first-team debut last month and starred in the run-up to the final, where Forest’s Warren Joyce made the hosts sweat en route to winning the competition for a record 11th time.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Bryan Robson and Michael Carrick joined David De Gea, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes at Old Trafford, where more than 5,700 traveling fans attended the first Youth Cup final in Forest history.
A banner reading ‘Class of 22’ was held up in the full-time Stretford End, as before kick-off.
The impressive Kobbie Mainoo showed good skill in the opening seconds before netting a shot, but Forest were no slouches and captain Jamie McDonnell headed just wide of the far post soon after.
The traveling supporters made themselves heard, only to be silenced in the 13th minute.
Sam Murray kicked in a free kick which United skipper Bennett met with a header that beat Aaron Bott. The centre-back grew up eight miles from Old Trafford in Denton and enjoyed the moment.
Forest have won every game since shocking Chelsea in the semi-finals and looked for a quick response as Dale Taylor saw an acrobatic attempt disallowed and Justin Hanks kick in a header.
United eventually settled in and finished the opening period top as Garnacho curled wide, only for Powell’s hopeful strike from the edge of the box to beat Vitek just before the break.
Hosts Binnion started the second half with the bit between their teeth as Charlie McNeill and Marc Jurado were denied but Forest came back in the final.
But the hosts dug deep and their new U18 Player of the Year eventually saw United claim victory.
Garnacho kept his composure to fire home his penalty past the Stretford End and then completed the win when his fine run ended with a deflected strike in stoppage time.