Manchester United opened their UEFA Youth League campaign with an enthralling 4-3 win over German rivals Bayern Leverkusen at Salford City Stadium this afternoon.
United started brightly and took the lead in the third minute when James Wilson capitalised on a horrendous mistake by Leverkusen’s goalkeeper to tap the ball home from 12 yards.
The reds dominated the early stages and were rewarded in the ninth minute. Ben Pearson picked the ball up 40 yards out and drove into the Leverkusen box before unleashing a shot which was deflected past goalkeeper Schnitzler.
Bayer then started to come forward and were unlucky not to have halved the deficit when a superb Bayrak cross glided across the middle of United’s 18-yard box but no one was there to convert it.
Leverkusen then made their attacking intent count when good play down the left resulted in Henrichs shot rebounding off the post into the path of Brasnic who slotted the ball past Gollini.
The German outfit then drew level after a mistake at the back by Ioannou left Brasnic to round Gollini and score his second of the game.
Brasnic continued to cause trouble to United’s defence and was unlucky when he laid the ball off to Henrichs after a powerful run as the 16-year old German could only fire wide.
With the first half coming to an end, United could have gone in front after superb build up play down the right from Pereira and Weir resulted in Joe Rothwell firing high and wide from 13 yards.
The second half started a lot quieter than the first until Leverkusen went ahead just after the hour mark.
Lazy football at the back by United and a stray pass was picked up by Leverkusen’s Wagener, who unleashed a fierce low shot which glided past Gollini.
But just as United looked to be letting the game slip out of their grasp completely, good work by Andreas Pereira led to United’s equaliser.
After picking the ball up in the final third, Pereira slipped a superb ball through to Sam Byrne and after his shot was saved, the young Belgian was there to fire in the rebound.
Dramatically, United were then reduced to ten men when Patrick McNair was sent off for a second bookable offence but it didn’t stop United from looking for the winner.
Despite Leverkusen piling on the pressure, Wilson picked the ball up just over halfway and beat two Leverkusen defenders as he drove into the German’s box, where he was brought down for a penalty.
The referee pointed straight to the spot and Wilson stepped up to convert it and gave United the lead with minutes remaining. Leverkusen pushed everyone forward for the last five minutes but couldn’t find an equaliser.
The result leaves United top of their UEFA Youth League with the next game a tough away trip against Shakhtar Donetsk on 2 October.