Charlie Wellens shines with free-kick as Manchester United Under-21s beaten in season opener

The United youngsters, who finished sixth last season, took the lead with less than 15 minutes on the clock via a superb Charlie Wellens free-kick, but were pegged back shortly before the break, courtesy of a close-range finish from Khayon Edwards. The goal just before the interval gave Mehmet Ali's side plenty of energy, so much so that they turned the game on its head within minutes of the restart.

Summer signing Marquinhos, who caught the eye on his Under-21s debut for the Gunners, netted the home side's second goal before Miguel Azeez, showing great levels of composure, added a third, meaning the points were sealed with just 50 minutes on the clock. The Reds did threaten to pull a goal back, but the closest they came was when Norwegian youngster Isak Hansen-Aaroen hit the woodwork with 10 minutes left to play.

With Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta watching from the stands, it was far from the start United would have wanted to make to the campaign. Wellens' free-kick, however, will have offered manager Mark Dempsey a crumb of comfort.

The United youngsters will be looking to get their first points of the season on the board when they lock horns with Crystal Palace on Friday evening at Leigh Sports Village.

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