Montano magic fires U18s

West Ham United Under-18s returned to winning ways with a fine 3-1 FA Premier Academy League victory over Norwich City.

Cristian Montano scored twice, including a mesmerising individual effort, and Nicky Barrett his second goal of the season to close the gap on the Group A leaders.

Academy Director Tony Carr said the result on Saturday would also serve as a morale-booster ahead of Wednesday evening's FA Youth Cup third-round tie at Plymouth Argyle.

"It was a good win in very heavy conditions," Carr said. "The rain this week hadn't helped the pitches, but in the first half we played as well as we've played all season.

"We scored early on when Nick Barrett finished after Robert Hall had squared the ball. Cristian Montano then doubled our lead with a header from a corner to put us in a commanding position.

"We had chances to score more goals before half-time, which unfortunately Nick and Cristian could not convert. We went in 2-0 up so I was quite pleased with the first-half performance.

"In the second half they came out and had a little go at us and pulled a goal back to make it 2-1, but Cristian then scored a solo goal straight from our kick-off. The ball was touched to him and he literally ran through their whole team to score. It was unbelievable, like Diego Maradona. It was really a terrific goal.

"They had a player sent-off with 20 minutes remaining when he brought down Robert with only the goalkeeper to beat, so they finished with only ten men.

"I'm really pleased with the result, really pleased with the first-half performance and it puts us in a good frame of mind ahead of Tuesday's game."

West Ham United U18: Loveday, Modelski (Smith), Craig, Sanchez, Brown (Driver), Barrett (Subuola), Moncur, Wearen, Purdy, Montano, Hall