Barclays Premier League Under-21s Division 1
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Venue: Leigh Sports Village
Date: Monday, 30 November 2015
Kick-off: 19:00 GMT
Manchester United U21s pulled off a dramatic 3-2 victory against rivals Liverpool with an 89th minute winner.
Leading 2-0 with less than 10 minutes to go, United looked like throwing the game away, as Jerome Sinclair and substitute Madger Gomes bagged for the visitors, but Sean Goss grabbed the all-important winner in the dying embers.
It was Marouane Fellaini who opened the scoring in the first half, as Nick Powell continued his comeback from a lengthy lay-off by claiming the second, as Sergio Romero and Andreas Pereira also played a part at Leigh Sports Village.
A slow start to the game took 20 minutes to get going, as Fellaini’s pass into James Weir saw United’s number seven hit the deck, but it was via a slip rather than from Jordan Rossiter’s challenge.
Powell’s ball was expertly dummied by Josh Harrop, with Pereira’s resulting shot being tipped over the bar by Ryan Fulton.
The lively Pereira then shifted onto his favoured right foot but saw a shot held, before his delivery set up the opening goal.
The Brazilian again shifted the ball onto his right foot and shaped a deep cross to the back post which was met by the side foot of Fellaini, whose finish went in off the inside of the post.
Rossiter fired high and wide, sandwiched between Powell and Harrop doing likewise at the other end.
Harry Wilson’s through ball was pulled back by Joe Maguire, but Sinclair’s touch wasn’t strong enough to beat Romero, before Wilson himself took aim, from a free-kick, but the ball struck Fellaini in the United wall, and half-time arrived with the hosts in front.
Early on after the break and Powell glanced a header wide from Guillermo Varela’s cross before Harrop stooped a header over the bar.
Joe Riley’s bursting run from the back allowed Pereira to take over, cut inside, and his shot that fell wide was nearly turned in by the outstretched leg of Powell.
Liverpool, searching for an equaliser, cranked up the pressure, with Maguire’s header and Alex O’Hanlon’s shot only finding the arms of Romero.
A short corner routine led to captain Cameron Brannagan just missing the target from his shot from range, as his free-kick moments later struck the wall after Varela was subsequently booked for bringing down Sinclair.
After riding the storm, United looked like they had sealed the game after a neat passing move led to a one-two between Fellaini and substitute Devonte Redmond, with Fulton parrying the former’s left-footed strike, leaving Powell with a simple tap-in.
However, a second number nine also bagged a tap-in, with Sinclair finishing a ball played across the area, to half the deficit.
They say that 2-0 is the most dangerous scoreline, and this proved to be the case, with Romero punching a left-hand cross straight into the path of Gomes, who had the easy task of putting the ball into the back of the net.
In a frantic end to the game, United came back at Liverpool in search for a winner, and it was Fellaini who teed up Goss on the edge of the area, allowing Goss to place his strike on target, with Fulton’s fingertips not enough to keep the ball out.
Marcus Rashford, who came off the bench at 2-0, saw his cross touched by Pereira into the path of Varela, but his shot flew over, with full-time arriving as United secured the three points that takes their tally into double figures for the season after five games.
A bizarre season meant that Warren Joyce’s side had at least three games in hand on every team in the division heading into this fixture, with six games in hand the case compared to some clubs, but he will pleased with a last-gasp win and the points to games ratio that his side have accumulated thus far.
Joyce and Louis van Gaal will also be pleased at the minutes received for some of the first team players, making the most of a free week ahead for United in the calendar.
A two week break now awaits for the U21s, with Leicester and Manchester City to visit on December 14 and 22 respectively, before Christmas arrives to round off the year 2015.
Manchester United: Romero; Varela, Tuanzebe, Borthwick-Jackson, Riley; Fellaini, Goss; Weir, Harrop (Redmond 76), A. Pereira; Powell (Rashford 76).
Subs: Willock, O’Hara, Rashford, Redmond, Fosu-Mensah.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Liverpool: Fulton; Maguire, Cleary, Enrique, Smith (Hart 46); Chirivella (Virtue 86), Rossiter (Gomes 62); Wilson, Brannagan, O’Hanlon; Sinclair.
Subs: Virtue, Firth, Gomes, Hart, Whelan.
Manager: Michael Beale