Manchester United’s Under-21s lost 2-1 at home to Manchester City tonight last night in a game where they had a lot more chances but weren’t able to make the most of them.
Guillermo Varela returned to the squad after a period of compassionate leave in Uruguay where his parents had been involved in a car crash. Spaces opened up as Fabio headed to Cardiff on a permanent deal, Jack Barmby went on loan to Hartlepool and Wilfried Zaha was unavailable ahead of a loan to Cardiff.
It was a starting XI full of experience with Jesse Lingard, Will Keane, Davide Petrucci, Sam Johnstone and Tom Thorpe all involved. Donald Love started at right back and Joe Rothwell also started. However it was a poor performance from the team and City deservedly ran out 2-1 winners.
It looked as though United were going to dominate going by the opening minutes. Lingard burst through onto a pass from Rothwell but his shot lacked bite and was comfortably saved by Ian Lawlor. However, United were undone by poor defending. The referee awarded City a free-kick having wrongly adjudged that Blackett had fouled. The ball in caused problems but Johnstone pulled off a terrific save to force a corner from which City scored
Soon after, Love put in good cross from the right but no one got on the end of it and that was followed by another good cross from Rothwell but once again, there was no one in the box.
Will Keane was quite isolated in the match and ended up dropping back into the midfield on several occasions to win back possession. On one such occasion, he won the ball back off a City player and set Rothwell off who unselfishly passed to Petrucci. However, Lawlor was able to get his right foot over to block the shot.
United started well in the second half and after 90 seconds had drawn level. Petrucci’s fabulous ball found Lingard who ran towards the City goal and finished with composure.
Unfortunately, City came forward again. Devante Cole [son of United legend Andy] did well against Love and Glendon and met a ball to restore City’s lead. That was an unfortunate mistake for Love who overall had a decent performance but not long after that the coaching staff chose to replace him with Saidy Janko.
City’s defence looked a bit shaky when United did break forward but the finishing touch was missing in the final third.
Janko and fellow substitutes Andreas Pereira and Ben Pearson did well when they came on but United didn’t really pose much of a threat in the latter stages.
City clinched their eighth consecutive win and deserved the victory. The loss could be quite damaging for United in terms of reaching the semi-finals of the Under-21 league but there’ll be a chance to bounce back against Leicester next Monday.
Manchester United: Johnstone, Love (Janko 62′), Thorpe, Ekangamene, Blackett, Cole, Petrucci (Pearson 78′), Rothwell (A. Pereira 75′), Reece James, Lingard, Will Keane. Unused Substitutes: Gollini, Varela.