Manchester United suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat against Bayer Leverkusen after a bad start in the penultimate group match in the UEFA Youth League.
The German side took the lead after 18 minutes. Marc Brasnic got the ball on the right side of the pitch and ran towards the goal with Patrick McNair backing off him. Space opened up and Brasnic went for goal with a right footed effort which beat Joel Pereira.
Things went from bad to worse when in the 26th minute United were reduced to ten men. Captain Liam Grimshaw brought Timo Barendt down outside the penalty area. As he was last man, the referee was left with no option but to issue him a straight red card.
Leverkusen doubled their lead from the resulting free-kick which saw some pretty poor defending from United. Dennis Engelman’s shot hit the cross bar but the United players weren’t alive to the ball as it came back out, Barendt was unmarked and he slotted home from the rebound.
At that point it looked as though it would be a case of damage limitation with ten man United trailing by two goals with over an hour left to play. However, United started brightly in the second half.
A beautifully worked kick off between James Wilson, Joe Rothwell and Andreas Pereira had Wilson running through on goal. Leverkusen’s keeper Oliver Schnitzler took him down in the penalty area and was sent off. United were awarded a penalty. Wilson kept his composure through a long wait while Leverkusen brought on their substitute goalkeeper Raoul Leuchter and smashed home from the penalty area to reduce the deficit.
Both teams then had ten men and United asserted themselves to take control. They poured forward and there was chance after chance as the youngsters strove to find the equaliser. Wilson almost headed in a second soon but Leuchter was very lucky to find himself in the way of the effort. Leuchter was on hand again to deny McNair’s brilliant close range volley.
Harrop was introduced for Byrne and had two very good long range opportunities, one of which went just wide and the other which was saved by Leuchter. Saidy Janko put in a few excellent crosses, one in particular which ran straight across the face of goal but unfortunately no United player was able to get a touch to direct it into the back of the net.
United looked the more likely all throughout the second half and in response to that, Butt made an attacking substitution with ten minutes to play, bringing on Ashley Fletcher to replace Andreas Pereira. The Under-18s top goalscorer had a chance good chance to score but his header went wide.
Then against the run of play Leverkusen scored. United had pushed forward but Leverkusen went on a counter attack and Andrejs Cigniks found himself in tons of space left by the attacking United players. He easily slotted home to secure a 3-1 victory for Leverkusen.
United’s misery was compounded then went James Weir was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card for a high challenge.
Meanwhile the other match in Group A between Shahktar Donetsk and Real Sociedad finished in a 0 – 0 draw. This means that despite the defeat, United can still qualify. The young Reds destiny is in their own hands as a win in the final group match against Shahktar would mean that we leap frog them into second place and the knock-out stages of the tournament.
Red Cards: Grimshaw (26′), Weir (95′ – second yellow)