Manchester United beat Leicester City 1-0 in the Fourth Round of the FA Youth Cup tonight thanks to a deflected extra time effort from Andreas Pereira.
Like the first team, the Under-18s had injuries to their top strikers. Ashley Fletcher, top goalscorer at Under-18 level, was sidelined with a knee injury and although James Wilson was expected to be involved, he felt his ankle click in training yesterday and was rested as a precaution due to his previous ankle injuries. That meant 16-year-old Marcus Rashford started up front on his own while Andreas Pereira took the captain’s armband.
It was a tight affair in the first half with both defences playing well and limiting chances. Early chances from Josh Harrop and Andreas Pereira didn’t break the deadlock in a tight encounter and at the other end of the pitch, Joel Pereira produced saves to thwart Leicester’s Kyle Bailey and Brandon Fox.
The second half continued in much the same vein and the absence of Wilson and Fletcher was noticeable in the final third. Rashford did well but was isolated for much of the game and wasn’t helped by below-par performances from Harrop, Janko and Pereira. Rashford put pressure on the Leicester defence and that, coupled with pressure from Harrop, saw United win possession. They linked up well and Harrop ran in towards goal from the left side but his shot was well wide.
Rashford went off with cramp with ten minutes of normal time remaining. Demetri Mitchell came on to replace him and did well with his fresh legs. Set-pieces weren’t going well for the youngsters but Andreas Pereira hit a cracker of a freekick with 86 minutes on the clock that was met by an equally as impressive save. The keeper was on hand again to block Mitchell after great work on the touchline.
The game had to be decided on the night and so extra time was played. It was a case of the two Pereira’s. First, Joel Pereira made an outstanding stop and then less than a minute late Andreas Pereira controlled a pass from Harrop and saw his effort get a massive deflection over Sam Jones to loop into the net.
Nick Ioannou and Ryan McConnell continued to defend strongly and even though Ioannou went off in the 117th minute after a bout of cramp, United held on for the win. That victory sees United progress to the Fifth Round where they will face Huddersfield away from home (date, time and venue to be announced).
Manchester United: J. Pereira, C. Evans, McConnell, Ioannou (Borthwick-Jackson 117′), Barber, Janko, Goss, Willock, A. Pereira, Harrop (Riley 113′), Rashford (Mitchell 80). Unused Substitutes: Henderson, Thompson.