Manchester United’s U21s snatched a point last night against a resilient Liverpool side who played the majority of the game with ten men.
As to be expected with the rivalry, the game was feisty from the first whistle with Ryan Tunnicliffe lucky to escape a booking in the very first minute after a late tackle.
Liverpool fielded a strong team which included first team squad members Andre Wisdom, Jonjo Shelvey and Spanish youngster Suso and it was Shelvey who gave the visitors an early lead.
The ex-Crewe Alexandra midfielder has just one goal in eighteen first team appearances this season but he made no mistake when he was given time and space to hit a superb long-range strike into the top corner beyond the reach of Ben Amos after just five minutes.
United hit back straight away though as Tunnicliffe picked up a pass from Januzaj and then showed great strength and determination to drive through the middle of the Liverpool defence, forcing Sama to pull him down just outside the penalty area and recieve his marching orders just as he did in the earlier fixture between the two sides.
United’s Jesse Lingard was lucky to escape a booking minutes later after a dangerous tackle went unseen by the ref and Shelvey got himself booked for showing his anger at the challenge.
United dominated the remainder of the half and although both Blackett and Vermijl got in behind the opposition’s full backs on a number of occasions, Liverpool’s defence dealt with any crosses quite easily.
To their credit Liverpool’s ten men worked their socks off to contain United, defending deep and staying compact to limit their chances to mostly long range attempts. The situation highlighted just how much United are missing young striker Will Keane who is currently recovering from a long-term knee injury.
Tyler Blackett was replaced by Tom Lawrence at half time and the second half started just as the first half finished with United in total control but still only coming close through long range shots from both Lingard and Larnell Cole, both saved well by Liverpool goalkeeper Danny Ward.
After 70 minutes forward James Wilson came on for exciting prospect Adnan Januzaj was having an unusually quiet night, struggling to create anything against a Liverpool defence which was defending deeper and deeper as the game went on.
But to their credit United’s youngsters didn’t panic and kept trying to play their usual passing game and it paid off with just ten minutes remaining when once again United right-back Marnick Vermijl beat his man to pull the ball back into a crowded box and it found the net via a deflection from Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan.
United searched for a late winner but still struggled to create any clear chances and the ten men of Liverpool held on for a well deserved point. The result means that the teams will meet again in the semi finals of the competition with United having home advantage after finishing above their rivals.
Utd team- Amos; Vermijl, Thorpe, Fornasier, James; Cole, Ekangamene (Pearson 73), Tunnicliffe, Lingard, Blackett (Lawrence 46); Januzaj (Wilson 69). Subs not used: Sutherland, Grimshaw
Man of the Match- Ryan Tunnicliffe