Manchester United’s Under-21s beat West Ham United 2-1 at Old Trafford last night thanks to a couple of fantastic goals from Michael Keane and Andreas Pereira.
United were dealt a late blow as striker James Wilson was withdrawn after feeling unwell as a precaution to ensure that he was fit for the FA Youth Cup match on Friday. That meant that the Reds started without a recognised striker and Pereira had to start in a false No. 9 role.
At the start, United had a lot of possession and the game was played at a fair pace but there wasn’t much goal mouth action. Joe Rothwell went on a good run into the opposition penalty area and got a shot off but it was blocked. Pereira saw a freekick go wide. Davide Petrucci and Jesse Lingard also worked the Hammers’ keeper Rafael Spiegel with efforts on goal.
Guillermo Varela and Saidy Janko were combining well on the right flank and were involved in the build up for the opening goal. Janko got a touch on the ball on the edge of the area and it fell to captain Michael Keane. The central defender twisted superbly to create enough space for get his shot of and his low drive nestled into the back of the net.
The Hammers grabbed an equaliser four minutes before half-time when Matthias Fanimo powered a left-footed drive past Ben Amos. However, United hit straight back. The stadium announcer hadn’t had the opportunity to mention West Ham’s scorer before Pereira curled a stunning strike into the net.
Rothwell looked like he was going to add a third goal before the half-time whistle blew but he was unlucky to see his shot, from a Janko cross, strike the crossbar.
The second half was more subdued with fewer chances created. United didn’t look in any danger though. Pereira, Reece James and Lingard had efforts but United didn’t add to the scoresheet. Rothwell was substituted after picking up a slight knock in an earlier collision.
The three points mean that United leapfrog West Ham in the Under-21 Premier League as they face into a mini-break from their fixtures due to a couple of postponements.
Manchester United: Amos, Varela, Love, Michael Keane, Reece James, Janko, Pearson, Rothwell (Grimshaw 73′), Petrucci, Andreas Pereira (Rowley 85′), Lingard. Unused substitutes: Gollini, McNair, Willock.