Manchester United’s Under-21s overcame Liverpool 1-0 tonight at Anfield to seal a place in the Under-21s Barclays Premier League final thanks to a stunning goal from Andreas Pereira.
There was only one change to United’s starting line-up as Louis Rowley was forced to bow out with an injury while Tom Lawrence who recently returned from loan at Yeovil slotted in behind the prolific James Wilson.
That change meant that United played a two man central midfield which allowed Ben Pearson and Joe Rothwell to command the midfield area.
United made a blistering start and could have been ahead within four minutes. James Wilson was gifted possession on the edge of the area, his shot beat Ryan Fulton in the Liverpool goal but he was denied by the woodwork. It’s a testament to his talent that although surrounded by three Liverpool players, it was surprising that he didn’t get on the scoresheet.
Lawrence put in a fantastic performance with hard work all over the pitch and providing a decent attacking outlet. It was the type of performance that one would expect from a player returning from loan, but sadly isn’t seen too often.
Charni Ekangamene again looked comfortable in central defence alongside Paddy McNair. That unorthodox pairing, in front of Ben Amos, managed to keep a clean sheet against Liverpool. This was the first game this season that Liverpool failed to score in.
Paddy McNair, the hero against Reading after scoring the last gasp winner, forced a good stop from Fulton, who had to alert to prevent Wilson from slotting the ball over the line.
Rothwell and Lawrence linked up well before Andreas Pereira took possession and fired home a stunning curling shot past Fulton to give United the lead just before half-time.
Jack Dunn, who had been quiet, blasted wide in response but United were looking good at the break. Andreas Pereira tried his luck again from distance but he wasn’t as successful second time round.
United were largely content to contain the hosts and Guillermo Varela was popping up all over the pitch as he man-marked Liverpool’s danger man Teixeira. Amos made simple stops to deny Peterson and Paez, who rose highest to win a header, but was not really worked.
Unfortunately, United were struck by a few injuries with first Rothwell, then Wilson, and finally Lawrence all having to make way after picking up knocks. Ben Pearson had a great chance as he forced a double save from Fulton after putting in brilliant performance.
Liverpool came more into the match in the final stages as they tried to reach the final, but Amos and the defence, helped out byt he rest of the team stayed strong and managed to hold on for the win.
That victory sees United go through to face Chelsea in the final. The date and venue have yet to be confirmed but Chelsea are due to have the home advantage.
Manchester United: Amos, Varela, McNair, Ekangamene, R. James (c), Janko, Pearson, Rothwell (Weir 57′), A. Pereira, Lawrence (Love 89′), Wilson (Harrop 83′)
Unused Substitutes: J. Pereira, Willock.