Timely Tunnicliffe on target as Reds take home the trophy
Posted by nickogs20 on April 13, 2009
In time-honoured MUFC fashion, a last-minute goal in the final from substitute midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe has seen United’s youngsters triumph in Maranello, winners of the 2009 Torneo di Calcio Memorial Claudio Sassi.
Tunnicliffe’s last-gasp strike earned the Reds a 1-0 victory over an impressive Ajax side, coached by Dutch legend Frank de Boer and featuring Rodney Sneijder, younger brother of Real Madrid and Holland midfield ace Wesley. An even and hotly-contested final looked to be heading towards extra-time and a possible penalty shootout when Tunnicliffe, one of the youngest players involved in the competition, popped up unmarked in the area to stroke the winner beyond Marco Bizot in the Ajax goal and cap a fine four days in the peninsula for United’s youngsters and their coaches, Paul McGuinness and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United started as they meant to go on in Friday evening’s opener, putting Swiss side F.C. Chiasso to the sword in Campogalliano. Nicky Ajose was the star of the show, bagging four goals in a 6-0 drubbing – Tunnicliffe and Joshua King with the other goals. The young Reds then took part in the “inaugural” fixture against host side U.S. Sassuolo the following morning, after the tournament’s official opening ceremony, and were given a much sterner test by their Italian opponents. Indeed, it took a goal just three minutes from time from Oliver Norwood to claim a 2-1 win and all three points for the Reds, Robbie Brady having earlier cancelled out a 3rd minute strike from Sassuolo’s Spadacini.
Sunday morning saw the Reds take on Aalborg of Denmark in the final group game, needing just a point to make sure of qualification for the semi-finals and first place in the group. After another tight match, they emerged with all three and a perfect group record, goals from Norwood, Brady and Ajose securing a 3-2 win. Sassuolo took second place and the other semi-final spot from Group A, while Ajax and F.C. Modena (in that order) edged out Juventus and Virtus Castelfranco to qualify from Group B.
The semi-finals paired first in Group A with second in Group B, and Group B’s table-toppers with the Group A runners-up. With Ajax edging out Sassuolo on penalties after a 1-1 draw, United took on Modena in Castelfranco for the right to face the Dutch giants in the final. The result mirrored that of the other match – Ravel Morrison getting the Reds’ goal – and it was the boys from Manchester who held their nerve from 12 yards out, with Norwood, Ritchie de Laet, Magnus Eikrem, Matt James and Brady all successfully converting their spot-kicks as United took the shootout 5-3.
And so it was on to Maranello for the U18 final of the 19th Torneo di Calcio Memorial Claudio Sassi, where a side of Ben Amos, Reece Brown, de Laet, Corry Evans, Joe Dudgeon, Cameron Stewart, James, Norwood, Brady, Ajose and King emerged triumphant thanks to the intervention of Tunnicliffe from the substitutes bench (Morrison the other Reds sub to see action). Skipper Evans led the team up and lifted the trophy, adding silverware in another prestigious tournament to the Milk Cup won back in August.
Goalkeepers: Ben Amos, Sam Johnstone
Defenders: Reece Brown, Ritchie de Laet, Joe Dudgeon, Corry Evans, Scott Moffatt, Scott Wootton
Midfielders: Robbie Brady, Magnus Eikrem, Etzaz Hussain, Matt James, Ravel Morrison, Oliver Norwood, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Tunnicliffe
Forwards: Nicky Ajose, Joshua King
United 6-0 F.C. Chiasso
(Ajose 4, Tunnicliffe, King)
United 2-1 U.S. Sassuolo
United 3-2 Aalborg BK
(Norwood, Brady, Ajose)
United 1-1 F.C. Modena
United won 5-3 on pens (Norwood, De Laet, Eikrem, James, Brady)
United 1-0 AFC Ajax
MUTV will air highlights from the tournament towards the end of the month (April 26th I believe).