Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Manchester United vs Chelsea
Venue: Leigh Sports Village
Date: Monday, 9 February 2015
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Manchester United’s U21s came from a goal down to beat top-of-the-table Chelsea in a spirited fightback at Leigh Sports Village.
Andreas Pereira’s deflected free-kick and Tom Thorpe’s late header was enough to seal the win, after Dominic Solanke had given the Blues the lead.
A two goal margin was needed for United to go top, but they moved level on points with their opponents, in what seemed an unlikely victory at one stage.
A foul-filled first half, where they seemed to be more bookings than shots, with captain Jordan Houghton booked for Chelsea, before making another bad challenge on the returning Ashley Young, but referee David Richardson decided against the second yellow.
Josh Harrop was booked for United before Isaiah Brown was cautioned for a terrible lunge on Rafael.
After a half of niggly foul in a stop-start contest, the game burst into life, with what seemed to be a shot per minute.
Kasey Palmer saw his shot held by Victor Valdes before Andreas Christensen blocked Young’s effort at the other end; Brown flashed a shot wide for the Blues before Andreas Pereira found Rafael, whose shot was also blocked.
Pereira was then booked, as the opening period drew to a close.
The second half began like the first, with another lunge being launched, this time from Christensen on Nick Powell. Young curled the free-kick over the bar, however.
The league leaders then took the lead, after a mistake from Young. He sold Tyler Blackett short, although the centre-halve could’ve done better with the pass by clearing it, but Brown stole in, ran onto the loose ball, and played a delightful ball across the goal, which Solanke duly obliged to finish off.
Brown himself had an attempt at goal, but curled his shot over the bar.
Fankaty Dabo became the fifth name in the referee’s notebook, pulling back Powell has he raced away down the left. Nothing came of the free-kick and Young was withdrawn with just under an hour under his belt.
Palmer was brought down on the edge of the box by Powell – who received a booking for the challenge – with Palmer’s resulting kick having to be tipped over the bar by Valdes.
Chelsea’s dominance continued, with Brown curling an effort goalbounds, only for Valdes to deny him with a finger-tipped save.
But United hit back, with Rafael winning a free-kick on the edge of the area after a foul by Jake Clarke-Salter. Pereira stepped in, and the ball found its way through, albeit via a huge deflection which wrong-footed Mitchell Beeney in the Chelsea net (Vine).
A second foul in quick succession saw Clarke-Saltor booked, this time for stopping James Weir in his track. Pereira took it, forcing Beeney into a great save, tipping the ball behind.
The winner came after a foul by Jay Dasilva on Pereira allowed the latter to swing it in, and captain Thorpe headed home, with six minutes to go (Vine).
As expected, the visitors tried to find a way back into the game, as United defended for their lives, but they held on for a priceless victory against table-topping Chelsea.
Just a second win in seven games for Warren Joyce’s side, but they have come against Liverpool and now Chelsea in the space of two weeks.
Yet another home game awaits next week, with Everton the visitors to Leigh Sports a Village next Tuesday, but bouncing back from last week’s defeat to Fulham to move level on points with Chelsea at the top, will give United all the confidence they need, in the quest for back-to-back wins.
Manchester United: Valdes; Rafael, Thorpe, Blackett, James; Harrop, Grimshaw, A. Pereira, Young (Weir 59); Powell, A. Fletcher (Love 65).
Subs: Weir, J. Pereira, Willock, Love, Kellett.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Chelsea: Beeney; Dabo, Christensen (Conroy 88), Clarke-Salter, Dasilva; Colkett, Houghton, Palmer (Abrahams 78); Brown, Solanke, Musonda (Aina 90).
Subs: Conroy, Collins, Abraham, Aina, Wright.