Manchester United’s U23s had their own derby match this past weekend against Manchester City’s U23s. It was a tough rainy December night at the Leigh Sports Village. While the game ended in a draw, it was nothing like the first team’s draw. This game had everything. It had 4 goals, 1 straight red card, a penalty, lead changes, and 4 yellow cards. It was an intense match, let’s get into the action.
The game started terribly for United. In the 6th minute, City played a quick ball into the box and James Mcatee put it away to make it 0-1 to the bad. The defense did not do well to pick up Mcatee for the goal and were punished for it. It did not take long for United to respond, Ethan Laird chased a ball down in the box and played it back in. The ball looked to be going to a City defender, but Hannibal came out of no where looking to maintain possession. He was hacked down and the ref awarded a penalty. In the 12th minute, Ethan Galbraith stepped up to the spot and buried the ball into the back of the net to equalize 1-1.
Galbraith was rewarded for his goal with a savage tackle in the 33rd minute by Adrian Bernabe. The tackle was terrible, cleats up and everything, a real bone-breaker. Bernabe was shown the red and was sent off. United responded in the 39th minute, when Laird drove into the City’s box and brilliantly found Facundo Pellistri. The winger slammed the ball home to make it 2-1 United, and just like that the Reds were ahead going into halftime.
The second half should have been smoother for the U23s. However, it didn’t appear as if City had lost a player at all. They were pressing forward on United and looked dangerous. In the 50th minute, Arnau Puigmal had a brilliant goal taken away for offsides. The Reds would regret that when two minutes later Taylor Harwood-Bellis equalized from a corner. It is difficult to see what Paul Woolston was doing on the corner, he appeared to pull his arms back, which led to the goal.
After their second goal, City took over the game despite being a man down. Woolston redeemed himself by making a brilliant double save to keep it level in the 65th minute. United’s keeper continued to make saves in the second half to keep City at bay. United had a decent chance in the 85th minute, when Laird won a free kick in a dangerous position. The free kick was able to make it to Anthony Elanga, but his header went over the goal. The game ended 2-2, but United will regret not getting all three points from this one.
United should have come away with all three points, especially after being one goal up with a man advantage starting the second half. I would say that Ethan Laird would be my man of the match. He saved the ball that set up the penalty for the first goal, and his expert pass to Pellistri set up the second goal.
Another notable player was Hannibal, he was winning free kicks all over the field, including the one that set up the penalty. Pellistri did well to score again, making it back to back league games with a goal. The U23s look to kick on this Friday at 7:00 AM EST away against Chelsea. The Blues sit on top of the PL2 table, but there is no reason the Reds can’t overcome them and get three points.