Manchester United’s u21s travelled to fierce rivals Liverpool yesterday for what is always a hotly contested fixture at this level.
Liverpool threatened early on, first with a strike into the side netting and then Liverpool captain Jake Cain hit the crossbar from 20 yards.
Up at the other end of the pitch, Zidane Iqbal went on a mesmerising run past three Liverpool defenders before slipping the ball to the Shola Shoretire on the left who played the return pass to Iqbal, but the Iraq international couldn’t sort out his feet to get the shot off.
Liverpool tested Radek Vitek again with a low driven shot to the left corner but the United keeper was down quickly to deal with it.
The deadlock was broken in the 36th minute when Cain’s strike from the edge of the box deflected off Rhys Bennett and looped past Vitek to give Liverpool the lead.
United looked to respond with a perfectly placed through ball from Charlie Savage, cutting through the Liverpool defence for McNeill to run through and slot into the bottom corner but celebrations were short lived with the flag up for offside.
Chasing for the equaliser before the break, McNeill played to the overlapping Alejandro Garnacho on the left, who chipped over the keeper but it was cleared by the Liverpool defender as it looked to bounce wide of the post.
One last chance in the first half came when Garnacho returned the favour to McNeill, playing the striker into the left side of the box, but the keeper was quick out to cut off the angles and save McNeill’s left-footed effort.
The second half saw Liverpool come out of the gates early again, forcing a fine save from Vitek from a close range effort.
United would equalise in the 50th minute though, as the corner was sent long to Savage at the back to control and chip back towards goal and the headed clearance could only reach Isak Hansen-Aaroen at the edge of the box to lash home on the half volley.
Just five minutes later, the Norwegian was causing trouble again as he raced in the box and jinked through two Liverpool defenders who took him down to win United a penalty.
McNeill stepped up to convert from the spot with the power in his shot leaving the keeper only able to palm the ball into the corner.
It wouldn’t be the only penalty though, as just minutes later Liverpool went up the other end and were awarded a penalty after Bobby Clark was adjudged to have been toppled over by Bjorn Hardley.
Vitek would initially stop the penalty from Layton Stewart but could do nothing as Clark followed in for the rebound to draw the match level.
Liverpool threatened to grab a winner with good chances for Stewart and Clark but great saves from Vitek would deny them.
United were handed a chance for a very late winner themselves, when they were awarded a free kick at the edge of the box for hand ball. But Garnacho couldn’t threaten the goal as he sent it over the bar.
United: Vitek, Jurado, Bennett, Hardley, Murray, Savage, Iqbal, Shoretire (Gore 68), Hansen-Aaroen, Garnacho, McNeill
Unused subs: Collyer, Mastny, Jackson, Norkett
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