Man United: Nightmare season ends with home loss against Cardiff

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing scored twice as relegated Cardiff City won their final Premier League appearance to heap more misery on Manchester United.

Mendez-Laing opened the scoring for Cardiff from the penalty spot after being brought down in the box by Diogo Dalot, before scoring his second after the break.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge proved the visitors’ hero as he foiled several United chances on a frustrating day for the hosts, who fielded six academy graduates.

Defeat means United have won just one of their final seven games of the season as city rivals Manchester City won the Premier League title for the second season in succession.

Cardiff travelled to Old Trafford just a week after confirmation of their relegation to the Championship and looked set to bid farewell to the top flight with a whimper as United dominated the opening exchanges.

But it was United who finished the match with their tails between their legs, unable to defy a resolute Bluebirds defence as they rained chance after chance on Etheridge’s goal.

Cardiff’s victory was their first over Manchester United since 3 April, 1954, when manager Neil Warnock was just five years old.

Nightmare season finally over for United

With Europa League status secured for next season, this campaign proved one to forget for United as they look to rebuild over the summer.

Ander Herrera confirmed this week he would leave the club after a five-year stay, and the exit door at Old Trafford could be busy with Antonio Valencia also departing.

Solskjaer looked to have turned United’s fortunes around as they went 12 league games unbeaten after his arrival.

But the wave they were riding crashed in March, and the Norwegian will spend the summer building his own team rather than the one he inherited from Jose Mourinho in December.

But while he will be keen to bring in players from elsewhere, the club’s youngsters will no doubt be much involved next season.

At 17 years and 223 days, Mason Greenwood became the youngest player to start a Premier League game for the Red Devils, and he more than showed his potential against Cardiff as the sole ray of sunshine in a gloomy United performance.

He had a handful of chances to score, twice going close with headers before Mendez-Laing scored his first and testing Etheridge not long after with a deflected effort on goal.

Eighteen-year-old Angel Gomes came off the bench late on with he and Greenwood scuffing chances to pull something back for United as they end the season in sixth, 32 points adrift of champions Manchester City.

Bluebirds end top-flight stay on a high

The 2018-19 season has been one in which Cardiff has united as a club, and manager Warnock was all smiles at full-time despite his side’s demotion.

Whether he will still be in charge of the club next season remains to be seen, with owner Vincent Tan keen to retain the 70-year-old who has one more year remaining on his contract.

The Bluebirds can be proud of the performance with which they downed United, weathering an early storm to shock their hosts by taking an early lead.

With nothing at stake, Mendez-Laing coolly slotted home his spot-kick, sending David de Gea the wrong way as his team-mates in defence stopped every United break in its tracks.

It was more of the same after the break as Mendez-Laing, completely unmarked just metres out from the United goal, tapped in a Josh Murphy cross to double his and Cardiff’s tally.

But Cardiff had Etheridge to thank for keeping them in the game as the keeper’s rapid reactions kept out a Marcus Rashford bullet header just moments after the second goal, before stoppong a powerful Paul Pogba effort with 20 minutes to go.

Cardiff finish the season just three points from safety but with some pride intact.


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