Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Leicester City vs. Manchester United
Venue: King Power Stadium
Date: Monday, 10 August 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 BST
Manchester United began their defence of the U21 title with a 1-1 draw away at Leicester City.
An own goal in the 22nd minute, the same as the first team on Saturday, gave Leicester the lead as Ashley Fletcher headed into his own net.
Right-back Guillermo Varela, returning after a loan spell with Real Madrid’s B team last season, equalised for the visitors with a calmly struck finish into the bottom corner.
A bright start from the hosts at the King Power Stadium began with Jak McCourt seeing a low shot held by Joel Pereira after a Leicester corner was initially cleared.
Captain Liam Grimshaw was booked for a foul on ex-Red Tom Lawrence, and the latter took the resulting free-kick, which was struck lightly but with dip, and Pereira parried the ball before clinging on at the second attempt.
Lawrence then saw a shot fly over the bar after a smart turn inside the penalty area, as a promising United move led to Sean Goss’ shot being blocked.
It was Donald Love who brought down Leonardo Ulloa for the opening goal, as Fletcher flicked McCourt’s resulting free-kick into his own goal.
Joe Dodoo saw a low left-footed effort held before another dangerous free-kick from McCourt fell just wide of Pereira’s right-hand post.
United were then back on level terms against the run of play, as Love’s long ball was mis-controlled by Ben Chilwell, which allowed Guillermo Varela to nip in, and he ran towards the area from the right and stroked the ball into the bottom corner with his weaker left foot.
A much improved United then turned up, with James Weir flying in for a crunching challenge before later teeing up Josh Harrop, whose left foot effort was held.
The ball sat up kindly for Ulloa, but his speculative shot from range flew well wide, as half-time arrived with the sides all square.
The second half began slowly, and new signing Yohan Benalouane was booked for a foul on Weir, moments after a bit of afters during an earlier tussle.
The resulting free-kick was hit over by Harrop, as Jack Barmby saw a shot blocked by Love at the other end.
Harrop dragged a shot wide before Matty Willock’s curled effort was held with ease.
Weir’s through ball found Fletcher, but he sliced his effort wide, before scooping an attempt over the bar, after substitute Sadiq El Fitouri’s pull back teed the number nine up after Weir’s surging run forward.
McCourt, inviting with the dead ball all evening, saw his free-kick tipped over the bar by Pereira in the fifth minute of stoppage time, but there was no time for the corner, as the referee blew for full time.
A decent point away from home as United aim to reclaim their crown come the end of the season.
One goal down against a much experienced side, Warren Joyce will be pleased to return to the North West with a draw.
Another trip south awaits next, but not until Sunday 13 September, when they take on Chelsea down at Aldershot, where the U21s will be looking for their first win of the season.
Manchester United: J. Pereira; Varela, Love, Grimshaw, Borthwick-Jackson; Fosu-Mensah, Goss; Willock (El Fitouri 76), Harrop, Weir; Fletcher (Redmond 90+5).
Subs: Redmond, Henderson, Riley, El Fitouri, McTominay.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Leicester City: Maddison; Benalouane, Moore, Elder (Ndukwu 72), Chilwell; Cain (Sesay 46), McCourt; Dodoo, Lawrence, Barmby (Panayiotou 60); Ulloa.
Subs: Miles, Smith-Varnam, Sesay, Ndukwu, Panayiotou.
Manager: Steve Beaglehole