Barclays Premier League Under-21s Division 1
Manchester United vs. Chelsea
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Monday, 4 April 2016
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Manchester United maintained their quest for the U21 Premier League crown with a 1-1 comeback draw against Chelsea.
Kasey Palmer’s free-kick gave the away side the lead at Old Trafford, only for captain James Weir to cancel that strike out in the second half.
This fixture also saw the return of Phil Jones for 75 minutes, with Ashley Young completing the full game as they aim to boost their fitness on the back of long-term injuries.
In a first half dominated by the visitors, Jake Clarke-Salter headed wide from a deep free-kick early on.
It was a dead ball free-kick that then gave the Blues the lead, despite a clear dive by Josimar Quintero to win the decision, but Palmer tucked his effort away in style, converting past Sam Johnstone into the bottom right-hand corner.
A clever dinked free-kick of United’s own from Andreas Pereira played in Guillermo Varela, but unable to bring the ball properly under control, he scuffed a shot into the arms of Mitchell Beeney.
Reece Mitchell’s attempt deflected behind off Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, with the resulting corner headed over by Tammy Abraham at the back post.
A string of Chelsea chances saw Palmer have a strike held after nutmegging Jones, Ola Aina head over from a corner and Mitchell slice an attempt too high also.
Jones’ loose header then allowed Aina to crash a long range volley against the bar, as half-time arrived with United fortunate to be just one behind.
A speculative effort from Pereira kept on rising after the break, with Clarke-Salter doing likewise at the other end after United failed to deal with a corner.
As Tomori collided with Young inside the box, referee Pete Gibbons waved away the penalty appeals, with Love’s well-struck volley from distance dropping onto the top of the net.
The equaliser then came after Varela’s pass found Weir inside the area, and the skipper manoeuvred space for the shot, which deflected off Tomori and crept into the bottom corner.
What a difference a goal makes, with the home side flying forward and full of energy all of a sudden, and Weir nearly doubled his tally, seeing a header saved from Young’s outswinging corner.
After riding the storm for around 10 minutes, Chelsea attacked with purpose once more, with Abraham seeing an attempt fall just over from a tight angle.
Looking for the winner, Pereira’s low drive and Young’s stoppage time header were both held, as full-time brought to an end an entertaining contest.
A fair result, with Chelsea rueing their near perfect first half display, as United responded superbly after the interval to claim a deserved point.
This result leaves Warren Joyce’s side four points behind leaders Sunderland but with three games in hand.
The final home game of the U21 campaign takes place next Monday at 7pm, where Middlesbrough will be the visitors to Old Trafford.
Manchester United: Johnstone; Riley, Jones (Redmond 76), Williams, Borthwick-Jackson; Love, McNair; Varela, A. Pereira (Rothwell 88), Weir; Young.
Subs: Redmond, J. Pereira, Rothwell, El Fitouri, McTominay.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Chelsea: Beeney; Tomori, Clarke-Salter, Aina; Dabo, Ali, Palmer (Feruz 72), Colkett, Quintero (Colley 67); Abraham, Mitchell.
Subs: Feruz, Baxter, Sammut, Colley.
Manager: Adi Viveash