Last Friday night saw U-21 travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool in the U-21 play off semi final. United got this far after a nail biter in the last league game of the season, needing a win at Reading, United trailed 2-1 with less that 10 minutes to go but managed to pull a goal back and then in the 3rd minute of injury time up popped centre half Paddy McNair to sidefoot the winner from the edge of the area, one of the coolest finishes this season.
Liverpool did their best to stop United fans getting in for the game, making it ticket only with none on sale on the day, no payment at turnstiles and United only giving 500 tickets! Thanks for that.
United started the game with probably the strongest team available with James Wilson declared fit enough to play and Tom Lawrence available after his loan spell at Yeovil had come to an end.
United should have taken the lead after a mere 3 minutes when Liverpool’s full back squared the ball across the edge of the box where it was intercepted by Wilson. He was in a great position, on the edge of the box, the ball on his favoured left foot and just the keeper to beat. Wilson curled the ball around the keeper only to see his shot rebound off the foot of the post. I have become so accustomed to seeing Wilson score form anywhere that it was a real shock to see him actually miss a chance.
United were all over Liverpool in the early exchanges with Lawrence and Rothwell both having shots that came to nothing.
Gradually, Liverpool got their game together and pushed United back and looked dangerous in possession.
As the half time break approached most people connected with United were hoping we could keep a clean sheet until the break and regroup in the second half but with just a minute of the half remaining Andreas Pereira picked up the ball for United out near the corner of the box on the left hand side. From there he hit a swerving, dipping shot that flew over the stranded keeper and into his net. A goal that would grace any game from a player who possesses bagloads of skill.
After the break, Liverpool came looking to draw level and this was where Ben Pearson came into his own. He never stopped running at Liverpool players in possession, harrying them and forcing them into errors as well as using the ball well when he won countless tackles and came away with the ball. It was as good a defensive midfield display as I’ve seen all season.
Liverpool continued to press but United mostly looked comfortable and had a couple of chances on the break. Sadly for United , Wilson had to limp off . He had been mostly ineffective and looked far from fit on a rare blank day for the goalscoring sensation
With only a couple of minutes left Amos made a save but but could only push the ball as far as an onrushing Liverpool player, with the goal gaping he somehow managed to lift the ball over the bar and into the Kop
That was the last action of the game as United ran out worthy winners. Chelsea await United in the final after they beat city on penalties, following a 1-1 draw at the council house. A date and venue have yet to be decided for the final.
If you want to go to the final for free next Wednesday, text UNDER21 FINAL to 60777.
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.