UEFA Youth League
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Manchester United
Venue: AOK Stadion
Date: Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Manchester United U19s ended their UEFA Youth League campaign for a 2-0 victory away at Wolfsburg.
A goal in each half, first from Axel Tuanzebe followed by Tosin Kehinde respectively, meant that United finished the campaign on eight points.
Sadly, with all four sides in Group B in contention to qualify beforehand, this win wasn’t enough to prevent elimination, as PSV Eindhoven’s 2-1 home victory over CSKA Moscow saw United finish third, and pipped to second place by their Russian counterparts on the head-to-head record.
Marcus Rashford was using his pace to good effect, dribbling his way into the Wolfsburg area to win an early corner.
The striker then latched onto a loose ball, rounded goalkeeper Phillip Menzel who tripped him in the process, but Rashford stayed on his feet despite stumbling forward and struck the outside of the post from the angle, but his honesty prevented himself from winning a penalty, although referee Bartosz Frankowski should have perhaps awarded one despite the lack of fall.
Ismail Azzaoui saw a shot blocked whilst Anton-Leander Donkor stretched to meet a diagonal pass but could only toe his effort wide.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s attempt flew off target as Leandro Putaro fired over at the other end.
United’s Dutchman then showed his defensive qualities, tracking back to do enough to force Jannes-Kilian Horn’s effort wide of the target.
Former Tottenham Hotspur attacker Azzaoui struck the back of RoShaun Williams with an attempt as Matty Willock brought down Iba May on the edge of the box, but George Dorrington managed to tip the free-kick from Amara Conde over the bar.
May himself failed to get a clean connection on his header from a deep corner, as United broke the deadlock with less than five minutes to go to half-time.
Gribbin delivered a flat but dangerous corner into the penalty area, which was met by Tuanzebe, only for Menzel to pull off an immaculate save to deny the defender, but Tuanzebe was on hand to turn the rebound against the underside of the bar and see the ball cross the line.
Into the second half and Dorrington’s punched clearance led to Azzaoui’s air shot as the goal gaped before Putaro’s free-kick landed well over the bar.
This turned out to be crucial, as Fosu-Mensah forced Menzel into a save, with Rashford’s skill ending with him being tackled, but the ball dropped for Kehinde, whose left foot strike made its way through the legs of Jaeckel and into the back of the net.
Gribbin could have made it 3-0 after firing Fosu-Mensah’s low cross over the bar with a first time strike before Jaeckel headed over from Horn’s corner when he really should have scored.
Donker saw a shot blocked as the ball fell to captain Conde whose effort was held.
Again Rashford utilised his pace to break clear, but Menzel produced a fantastic double save to deny United’s number nine from what would have been a deserved goal from a personal point of view.
Fosu-Mensah did brilliantly to tee up Willock but who decided himself to lay off substitute Callum Whelan, but he fired over as Alper Kara, a Wolfsburg substitute, somehow put the ball wide after a corner led to his effort.
Another free-kick from Conde fell wide as Jake Kenyon’s slip allowed Murat Saglam in on goal, but he forced Dorrington into a terrific save onto the post, as full-time arrived in Germany.
United, managed by Class of ’92 member Nicky Butt ended with a 2-2-2 record, starting and finishing the group with comprehensive away wins, keeping clean sheets in both games.
It’s a shame the middle four games saw them accumulate just two points whilst exiting the competition on head-to-head, but this has been a learning curve for these youngsters.
Eight points from six games in this season’s UEFA Youth League, it is down to the first team to qualify for the main competition again, to give this group of players another chance in Europe.
Manchester United: Dorrington; Warren (Kenyon 77), Williams, Tuanzebe, Hamilton; Gribbin, Fosu-Mensah, Redmond, Willock; Rashford, Kehinde (Whelan 63).
Subs: Byrne, Dunne, Sang, Whelan, Kenyon, Boonen, Diedrick-Roberts.
Manager: Nicky Butt
Wolfsburg: Menzel; El-Saleh, Jaeckel, Neuwirt, Horn; Badu (Saglam 57), Conde, May, Donkor; Azzaoui (Kara 59), Putaro (Vojic 68).
Manager: Hagen Schmidt