United’s youngsters produced a fine team performance at Anfield to see the Reds into the final of the Under 21 Premier League. The win came courtesy of a brilliant individual goal from Andreas Pereira, but owed as much to an impressive all-round team effort by the Reds.
Premier Under 21 League – Semi-Final
Liverpool 0 Manchester United 1
United looked the better side from the off. James Wilson missed an early opportunity to give United the lead when he struck the post in the fourth minute after intercepting a lazy pass across his area by Smith. After dominating much of the first half,tThe Reds also went close on the half hour mark, when McNair’s shot instigated a fine save from Fulton to parry and smother the rebound.
Although United produced long periods of possession, ably supported by the solid midfield partnership of Rothwell and Pearson, when the breakthrough came just before half time it was out of nowhere, a brilliant piece of innovation from Pereira whose shot from the left looped over the Liverpool keeper. Although the home team came close to equalising through Dunn soon after, United were well worth their lead at half-time. Liverpool had enjoyed their share of possession, the Reds had possessed far greater penetration, with Lawrence, fresh from his loan spell at Yeovil, especially prominent.
Lawrence went narrowly wide again after 67th minutes as Liverpool pushed up for an equaliser while the Reds continued to look dangerous on the break and Fulton was forced to save well from Ben Pearson shortly after. United looked like they might well rue these missed opportunities to double the lead as the home side came to life in the last ten minutes, producing a series of chances that might have levelled the scores. Petersen placed a free header just over the United bar while substitute Bijev pounced on a parry from Amos only to sent his shot high into the Kop and Teixera’s angled shot went wide of the far post.
United held on, though, to secure a victory that sends them into a final against Chelsea. Any victory against Liverpool at any level feels good, but it was especially pleasing to see such a young United team dig out such a determined, professional performance when it mattered.