U23s: Manchester United 2-0 Sparta Prague

by Tracey Germaine

Man United faced Sparta Prague in their second fixture in the Premier League International Cup. The Reds beat the Czech side 2-0. Birthday boy, Josh Harrop opened the scoring after just 21 minutes. Devonte Redmond doubled the lead early in the second half to give United an important three points going into the final group match against Middlesbrough next week.

Joe Riley and RoShaun Williams continued to miss out due to injury. Demetri Mitchell slotted into at left back while Tosin Kehinde replaced Charlie Scott in the only change to the team that lost 3-1 to Chelsea on Friday.

Sparta Prague were out of the running in terms of progressing from the group before kick-off, having lost their opening two games in the group. The winners of each of the 6 groups are guaranteed progression but only the two best runners-up will join them in the next round.

Josh Harrop, who turned 21 today, tested Patrik Štorc early in the game but the goalkeeper was able to make the save. Matthew Willock was booked for a dive in the opening minutes, however, he then settled into a good rhythm in the match. He burst forward with a driving run but his final shot let him down as he sent it flying into the stands.

Harrop and Willock linked up for the first goal. Willock played a fantastic through ball into Harrop, which took out the defenders. Harrop picked up the ball, rounded Štorc and sent the ball into the back of the net.

Devonte Redmond had a chance to make it 2-0 after he got on the end of a cross from Mitchell. Redmond got his head to it but the ball hit the woodwork and went out away from the goal. Redmond had another headed effort towards the end of the first half but was unable to direct Matthew Olosunde’s cross goalwards.

Willock was denied by Štorc early in the second half. The midfielder who had a really good first half saw Štorcsave his effort, which some may say was a cross but with the benefit of the doubt would be regarded by others as a shot. It would have been a contender for goal of the month had it gone in.

Redmond, who was unlucky in front of goal in the first half, finally managed to get a goal after just 10 minutes played of the second half. Mitchell cut the ball back into Redmond’s path and he slotted it past a defender and under Štorc to double United’s lead.

Sparta Prague came more into the game in the latter stages and tested Kieran O’Hara on a couple of occasions but without really threatening United. Meanwhile, down the other end, the delivery into the box from Mitchell created chances for United but unfortunately no one was there to put the ball away.

United have won their first two matches of the group without conceding and claim top place in the group ahead of the trip to Middlesbrough next week. The victory means that a draw will now be enough to go through to the next stage of the Premier League International Cup as group winners.

Man United: O’Hara, Olosunde (El Fitouri 78′), Tuanzebe (c), Poole, Mitchell, Harrop, Willock, Goss, Kehinde (Gribbin 68′), McTominay, Redmond (Scott 68′).
Unused Substitutes: M. Johnstone, Warren, Buffonge, Doughty.
Goal(s): Harrop (21′), Redmond (56′).
Booking(s): Willock (6′)
Man of the Match: Matthew Willock.

Sparta Prague: Štorc, Dudl, Köstl, Burda, Kadlec Milan, Frýdek, Sáček, Havelka, Tvaroh (Kajkowsky 57′), Fortelný (Cabadaj 73′), Pulkrab (c).
Unused Substitutes: Pedlacez, Drchal, Backowsky.
Goal(s): Pulkrab (88′).
Booking(s): Köstl (77′).

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