Manchester United’s u19s hosted Borussia Dortmund last night in the round of 16 of the UEFA Youth League.
United looked to hit the German visitors quick with an immediate ball into the corner for Alejandro Garnacho to run on to and the Spaniard’s tricky dribbling won a corner within 15 seconds.
After an even start to the match, Dortmund took the lead in the 15th minute through former Manchester City academy player Jamie Bynoe-Gittens.
From United’s own corner, Marc Jurado lost the challenge for the open ball in the midfield after Dortmund’s clearance. As a result, Alvaro Fernandez was left stranded to defend a three player break alone and could not keep up, allowing Dortmund to take an easy lead.
United were able to pull one back in the 22nd minute though with a fantastic goal from Charlie McNeill. Zidane Iqbal’s twisting and turning at the edge of the box opened the space for what looked to be a weak shot but it perfectly found McNeill who was able to turn and fire to draw level.
United almost took the lead four minutes later when Fernandez got forward and picked out Shola Shoretire in the box. The Englishman did well to control under pressure but the keeper flying out towards him put him off as he knocked the bouncing ball over the bar.
Dortmund looked to expose the space in behind with Julian Rijkhoff but Will Fish‘s recovery pace was able to hold him up before Rhys Bennett got back to make an important tackle.
Garnacho burst into life in the latter stages of the first half and looked to cut inside from the left with pace and struck from 30 yards but the keeper had enough time to save easily in the end.
After a fantastic challenge from Bennett to stop Dortmund breaking on the counter, Shoretire slipped through Garnacho but he couldn’t get a shot off before the outrushing keeper slid out to steal.
United thought they had taken the lead just moments before the break with a wonderful goal but the flag was raised for offside. A great team passing play culminated in Shoretire passing to Garnacho who curled into the top right corner but the winger had just strayed inches offside.
The half time whistle went shortly after with the score deadlocked at 1-1 in a fairly even affair with United taking the edge in the latter stages.
Dortmund’s Lion Semic was played in behind Fernandez in the opening minutes of the second half but the German fired it over the bar to United’s relief.
Fernandez looked to respond immediately when he overlapped Garnacho on the other end and struck to the near post forcing the keeper to tip round.
In the 53rd minute Garnacho was denied by the flag again. Cutting in from the left he was played in by Hannibal Mejbri and curled into the top right corner again.
In the 67th minute Bynoe-Gittens looked to have fouled Fish but it wasn’t called which allowed the forward to run freely at Radek Vitek and smash into the net to give the visitors the lead against the run of play.
The action was all United with Mejbri leading the charge. The midfielder drove at the heart of Dortmund and slipped through Garnacho on the left but he tried to go short side this time and hit the side netting.
United finally managed to grab the equaliser from an unusual source in Bennett. Jurado’s cross was only cleared to the edge of the box and Bennett absolutely smashed the volley into the roof of the net, leaving the keeper no chance.
The final minute of the match saw McNeill latch onto a loose ball in the box but had his foot caught taking him down for what looked to be a clear penalty but the referee wasn’t listening to United’s pleas.
The final whistle went shortly after with the score still locked at 2-2 to bring the match straight to penalties.
Dortmund won the toss and got to kick first. Goktan Gurpuz struck first to apply the pressure on United.
Marc Jurado was able to calmly finish as United’s first taker though.
Soumaila Coulibaly stepped and slipped as he hit the back of the net for Dortmund’s second. There was confusion though as the ref’s whistle blew to rule out the goal as Coulibaly was adjudged to have hit the ball twice when he slipped.
Charlie McNeill couldn’t take advantage though as his laced effort crashed off the right post.
Radek Vitek made a big save down to his left for Dortmund’s third.
Another chance to take the lead but Mejbri’s tame shot to the left was easily saved.
Dortmund went one up with a cool finish into the bottom left corner from Tom Alexander Rothe.
The pressure was on Noam Emeran and he couldn’t deliver as his strike was a perfect height for the keeper to make the save.
United’s enemy on the day, Bynoe-Gittens stepped up for the final kick and sent it into the top right corner to give Dortmund the win.
It was a heartbreaking end to a great performance from United’s youngsters which deserved more.
United: Vitek, Jurado, Fish, Bennett, Savage, Iqbal (Hansen-Aaroen 81), Shoretire (Emeran 81), Mejbri, Garnacho, McNeill
Unused subs: Mastny, Mather, Mainoo, Oyedele, Fredricson