Manchester United faced City in the first Premier League 2 fixture of 2017 but an early red card for Regan Poole meant that United were forced to play with 10-men for almost 80 minutes of normal time. City took the lead through Brahim Diaz. United pulled a goal back through Sean Goss but goals from Issac Buckley-Ricketts and Paolo Fernandes secured the 3 points for City in a 3-1 victory.
Nicky Butt remains in interim charge of the U23s as the search for Warren Joyce’s replacement continues. Joe Riley is still side-lined after picking up a hamstring strain several weeks ago.
The opening stages were fairly even, both sides were attacking without many clear-cut chances. The best chance fell to Matthew Olosunde who went on a great run and was picked out by Scott McTominay. His ball was cut back into the 6-yard area and was cleared by the city defence.
Just moments later, there was a major turning point in the game. Paolo Fernandes rode a challenge from Sean Goss, but Regan Poole went in two-footed on the Spaniard. The referee brandished a red card at the Welsh defender, who was shunned by Nicky Butt as he left the pitch.
From that point onwards city were on the offensive and it was a game of City’s attack against United’s defence. The creativity of Callum Gribbin was sacrificed for a defender, Sadiq El Fitouri. That limited United’s opportunities to relieve pressure off the defence and McTominay was left isolated up front.
Sean Goss dropped back to help out the defence and acquitted himself well and was on hand to make several key interceptions. Joel Pereira, who recently returned from a loan spell at Belenenses, had to settle quickly back into PL2 football and made a couple of key saves in the first half to keep the scores level going in at the break.
However, United weren’t able to hold out for much of the second half and Brahim Diaz who was city’s star player in the first half opened the scoring. He was left unmarked on the left side of the pitch and came inside to score.
Joel Pereira came out and unorthodoxly headed the ball forwards. Josh Harrop picked out Demi Mitchell was burst into the City penalty area. He pulled the ball back into Goss’ path and the midfielder neatly finished around Angus Gunn to get an unlikely equaliser.
Unfortunately just three minutes and 18 seconds later City retook the lead. Joel Pereira made a brilliant save from Fernandes but the ball came back out to Issac Buckley-Ricketts whose effort went under Demi Mitchell’s foot on the goalline.
A Matthew Olosunde error led to city’s third goal. The defender tried to beat two City players with some fancy footwork inside the United penalty area. He lost the ball and Fernandes powered into the bottom corner at the far post to all but seal the victory for city.
United continued to press and managed to create opportunities without finding a finish. Meanwhile, city were denied a fourth by the woodwork.
The U23s will have to bounce back quickly as the next fixture in the calendar is away to Liverpool next Monday evening. Kick-off: 7pm.
Man United: J. Pereira, Olosunde (Warren 82′), Tuanzebe (c),
Poole, Mitchell, Goss, Willock, Harrop, Redmond (Kehinde 76′), Gribbin (El Fitouri 18′), McTominay.
Unused Substitutes: O’Hara, Scott.
Goal(s): Goss (57′).
Sent off: Regan Poole (14′).
Man of the Match: Sean Goss.
Man City: Gunn, Duhaney, Humphreys, Adarabioyo, Oliver (Francis 69′), Diallo (Smith 84′), Diaz, Boadu (Patching 62′), Buckley-Ricketts, Fernandes, Sancho.
Unused Substitutes: Haug, Latibeaudiere.
Goal(s): Diaz (51′), Buckley-Ricketts (60′), Fernandes (73′).