By Nathan Youd.
Manchester United’s U21s produced a fantastic team display to defeat Tottenham’s U21s 1-0 at The City of Salford Stadium and all but secured their place in the semi-finals of the Elite Group Stage competition.
Even a power cut midway through the game couldn’t derail United who did very well to wrestle their way back into the game after a Spurs side including Younes Kaboul and former United man Zeki Fryers dominated the early stages.
Spurs were almost ahead after five minutes as Cristian Ceballos nicked the ball from the toe of Michele Fornasier, but Ben Amos thwarted the forward’s attempt with a smart stop at his near post.
Straight down the other end, Frederic Veseli latched onto Larnell Cole’s floated pass, but unfortunately the United man pulled up with a hamstring injury, as he looked set to pull the trigger.
Veseli was unable to continue, and Tyler Blackett came on in his place.
Tottenham dominated possession throughout the opening quarter; pressing United backwards and pinning them in their own half.
But on twenty minutes, United burst forward through the run of Ryan Tunnicliffe, whose neat back heel found its way to Lingard, but the midfielder’s strike just shaved the post.
The ever-impressive Adnan Januzaj almost spectacularly put United ahead minutes later with a bending effort that curled past the motionless Vigouroux but agonizingly onto the top of the post.
Spurs had Vigouroux to thank soon after for a terrific double save. First the goalkeeper denied Tunnicliffe’s side footed effort before producing a diving stop to deny Tyler Blackett.
The chances seemed to spark United into life as they managed to wrestle their way out of Spurs’ grip on the game and began to push forward themselves as the game swung from end to end.
Returning from injury, first teamer Younes Kaboul almost found the net from a free kick that left Ben Amos unsighted, but the goalkeeper did well to divert his venomous strike wide of the uprights.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, the City of Salford Stadium floodlights failed causing the referee to pause the game. Bizarrely, this was the third instance of floodlight failure for United games this season.
The referee deemed the game was playable for the remaining minutes of the half, as news filtered through of a power failure in the area.
The first half somehow ended goalless, but there was still doubt surrounding whether we would see the second half depending on the lights.
Half time: Manchester United U21s 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur U21s
Fortunately, the National Grid managed to overcome the problem and the second half was given the go ahead.
Young Spaniard Cristian Ceballos almost broke the deadlock with a flash of brilliance from a free kick, but the forward saw his effort crash off the crossbar.
Down the other end, Januzaj was denied by a great save from Vigouroux.
But United weren’t to be denied as they took the lead moments after through the bullish Ryan Tunnicliffe. The powerful midfielder burst through and showed great determination to toe poke the ball home ahead of the onrushing Vigouroux.
No one could begrudge United the lead after they had showed great character to get back into the game after Spurs dominated the early stages.
Ben Amos preserved United’s lead on the hour with a solid save off the toe of Shaquile Coulthirst.
United almost doubled their lead moments later after fantastic work from Ekangamene. The midfielder broke clear of the Spurs defence before sliding the ball to Lingard, but Vigouroux denied united man.
From the resulting corner, the post denied Cole after a fantastic nod back by Tom Thorpe.
The game uncharacteristically drifted on without any chances until the last five minutes when Adnan Januzaj was denied a penalty. The referee was unmoved as the Belgian youngster was felled in the area. The replay confirmed there was contact.
That was the last real action as the game somehow petered out after an enthralling first hour as United secured a brilliant victory to leapfrog rivals Liverpool into second place.
Full time: Manchester United U21s 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur U21s
Manchester United starting XI: Amos; Vermijl, Thorpe, Fornasier, James; Ekangamene, Veseli; Lingard, Cole, Tunnicliffe; Januzaj.
Tottenham Hotspur starting XI: Vigouroux; Fredericks, Fryers, Kaboul, Hall; Veljkovic, McEvoy, Dombaxe, Bentaleb; Coulthirst, Ceballos.
Latest Manchester United U21s statistics HERE.
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