Barclays Premier League Under-21s
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Venue: Leigh Sports Village
Date: Monday, 26 January 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Manchester United’s U21s recorded a 2-1 victory over arch-rivals Liverpool in a game that featured debutant Victor Valdes in goal.
One goal in each half from Nick Powell and Paddy McNair sandwiched Jerome Sinclair’s leveller, as a strong United side ran out worthy winners at Leigh Sports Village.
The first period was more about wasted opportunities until the later stages of the half, when the opening goals for both sides fell.
Prior to the opener, McNair blazed over from distance, whilst January signing Valdes held a Sheyi Ojo cross and a tame effort from Sinclair.
Tyler Blackett gave the ball away to Sergi Canos, but his shot went wide without troubling our new Spaniard, before Anderson’s ball in behind the Liverpool defence found Powell, but he fluffed his lines with just the keeper to beat.
The former Crewe Alexandra man made up for his error though, powering home a header from Andreas Pereira’s delightful free-kick from the right-hand side (Vine).
Powell then sliced a shot well wide just moments before the visitors levelled things up.
Reece James – back from his loan spell at Rotherham United – gave the ball away to Cameron Brannagan, who fed Sinclair inside the box, and the latter cut onto his left foot, and fired his shot past Valdes at his near post, as the teams went in at half-time all square.
Less than two minutes after the restart, and Powell slid in Saidy Janko, who pulled it back to the onrushing McNair, who expertly placed his shot into the bottom corner, as United restored their lead (Vine).
This resulted in a new lease of life for the Red Devils, as Lingard drew a foul and booking out of Ryan McLaughlin, and the resulting dead ball situation saw Pereira’s shot well saved by Lawrence Vigouroux, before Lingard blazed the rebound over the bar.
Lingard was at it again, but failed to connect properly, as his weak shot was easily held.
A rare attack for Liverpool saw Brannagan half-volley a shot just over the bar before a wander forward from Anderson at the other end saw him have a shot held.
Janko’s cross from the right deflected to Lingard who flicked the ball on to James, but he slipped as he went to shoot and the ball fell wide of the post.
Powell had a customary shot from range, something we know he is capable of executing, but on this occasion the ball was always rising.
Quick and neat feet from Ibe on the edge of the penalty area allowed him to muster a shot at goal, but it flew high over the crossbar.
The game petered out as a result, and the final whistle went, with United ending a run of four games without a win at this level.
An even first half but United were on top during the second, and the 2-1 outcome fairly reflects the result of the contest.
A winning start at the beginning of four consecutive home games on consecutive Mondays as things stand in the fixture list.
Warren Joyce’s side face Fulham, Chelsea and Everton in those fixtures and they can head into those matches full of confidence after overcoming their fiercest rivals.
Manchester United: Valdes; McNair, Thorpe, Blackett, Vermijl; A. Pereira (Weir 88), Anderson (Grimshaw 88), James; Lingard; Janko, Powell.
Subs: Grimshaw, J. Pereira, A. Fletcher, Love, Weir.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Liverpool: Vigouroux; Randall, Williams, Maguire; McLaughlin (Gomes 68), Chirivella, Brannagan, Ojo; Canos, Ibe; Sinclair.
Subs: Trickett-Smith, Fulton, Gomes, O’Hanlon, Cleary.