By Nathan Youd.
Manchester United U21s showed the same never say die attitude as the first team side to snatch the victory over rivals Liverpool at Langtree Park.
Central defender Michele Fornasier pounced with seconds remaining to finally break the resistance of a strong Liverpool side which included first-teamers Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Suso.
It was United who created the first chance after just sixty seconds through triallist Jeffrey Schlupp. The German born-Ghanaian international charged onto a neat through ball from Adnan Januzaj before pulling his shot wide of Danny Ward’s goal.
Five minutes later, Schlupp was denied once more. Again he found himself in on goal after being slid through by Tom Lawrence, this time the front man’s left footed effort was palmed away by Danny Ward.
The game started with a very lively tempo and Liverpool were next to threaten. Suso delivered a fantastic ball into the danger area that was nodded agonisngly wide by Adam Morgan. However replays showed that the striker had in fact used his hand, and should have been given a yellow card.
Minutes later, Liverpool struck the post. A quick throw in released Andre Wisdom down the right hand side, his cut back was flicked on by Stirling towards Adam Morgan, whose powerful strike cannoned back off the woodwork.
Schlupp was causing problems for the Liverpool defence, this time the triallist showed fantastic control to pluck the ball out of the area and burst past Andre Wisdom before being pulled down cynically, earning the Liverpool defender a yellow card.
The rivalry between the two sides was definitely on show at Langtree Park, Shelvey clattered into Alexander Buttner leaving the Dutchman on the deck, surprisingly the referee decided to keep his cards in his pocket on this occasion.
Schlupp had another chance to break the deadlock ten minutes before the break. A fantastic run from the lively Jesse Lingard released Schlupp, but his powerful strike was pushed away by Danny Ward.
Liverpool created very few clear-cut chances in a scrappy first half; Sterling and Suso should have both done better when they found themselves in good positions.
Both teams’ inadequacies in front of goal meant the game remained goalless at half time.
Half time: Liverpool U21s 0-0 Manchester United U21s
United were dealt a blow early in the second half as Tom Lawrence went off injured, Charni Ekangamene replaced the midfielder.
The red devils came close to opening the scoring on 50 minutes; a devilish ball in from Januzaj just evaded the head of Schlupp before being headed away by Liverpool skipper Conor Coady.
The home side were reduced to 10 men shortly after, Stephen Sama received his second yellow card for a strong tackle on Schlupp. Deservedly earning himself an early bath.
The momentum was with the away side, as both Januzaj and Lingard came close, but the game remained goalless as the hour mark approached.
Larnell Cole spurned a guilt edged chance after 60 minutes. Buttner’s cross evaded Shelvey on the left hand side before falling for Cole, but the winger poked his left footed effort wide of the goal.
Minutes later, it was Schlupp again who troubled the Liverpool defence, rifling a left footed strike just wide of Ward’s right hand upright.
The Ghanaian International was denied by Ward once again minutes after, capitalising on some sloppy defending to rifle a shot towards goal, earning United a corner. Tom Thorpe saw his header from the resulting corner headed off the line.
With 15 minutes remaining, the influential Januzaj was replaced by Tyler Blackett as Warren Joyce looked to the bench to break the Liverpool resistance.
The resistance was almost broken two minutes later. Buttner charged forward before unleashing a powerful strike towards goal that deflected on to the roof of the net, leaving Ward scrambling.
It was Liverpool who were next to threaten. Midfielder Krisztian Adorjan’s strike passed through a crowd of bodies but goalkeeper Ben Amos was alert to divert the effort away from goal.
Jack Dunn replaced the poor Sterling as Liverpool tried to run down the clock. The fourth official’s board indicated four minutes of additional time for the home side to hold on for.
But the home side couldn’t hold on. And the Liverpool resistance was finally broken with seconds remaining as Fornasier snatched the three points for the away side.
The ball was worked wide towards Frederic Veseli, who swung the ball to the back post onto the head of Schlupp, the Ghanaian nodded the ball back to Jesse Lingard whose strike rebounded to Fornasier, who showed a striker’s instinct to poke the ball into the goal and claim a priceless win for United U21s.
Full time: Liverpool U21s 0-1 Manchester United U21s
Manchester United U21s Starting XI: Amos; Veseli, Buttner, Fornasier, Thorpe; Cole, Lawrence, Januzaj; Schlupp, Powell, Lingard.
Subs: Ekangamene, Gollini, Blackett, McGinty, James.
Liverpool U21’s Starting XI: Ward; Wisdom, Roddan, Sama, Coady; Adorjan, Suso, Teixeria; Morgan, Shelvey, Sterling.
Subs: Mersin, Jones, Nacho, Dunn, Lussey.
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