After a great start to the competition, two losses in two games have made the chance of qualifying for the knock out stages a bit trickier for our Under-19s after a 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad left them on three points after three matches.
United looked bright in the opening moments with a lovely move involving Joe Rothwell and Ben Pearson. However the Sociedad defence did well and intercepted Rothwell’s attempted pass to captain James Wilson.
Sociedad took the lead after just four minutes. After some excellent control, Jon Bautista passed the ball to Alvaro Odriozola and Nick Ioannou was caught on the wrong side of his man, lost his footing and Odriozola was then clear to slot home past Joel Pereira. Louis Rowley made a great run to try to clear the ball off the line but was unfortunate not to get there in time to prevent the goal.
After that Sociedad looked the more comfortable of the two teams. Particularly when changed from a 4-4-2 formation to 4-5-1. Nicky Butt switched Josh Harrop into the middle and put Sam Byrne on the left wing, which left Wilson quite isolated up front.
Even with that there was the sense that the Spanish defence could be caught out if there was a decisive attack. It almost happened when Pearson threaded the ball through their defence towards Wilson who would have been through on goal. Luckily for the Sociedad, they’d successfully managed to play the offside trap.
Pereira made some fine saves to keep the Reds in the match. He denied Odriozola in a one-on-one situation and when Bautista was through on goal, Rowley and Pearson combined with great positioning from Joel Pereira kept the score at 1-0.
Rowley picked up a booking and Sociedad were lucky not to be reduced to ten men after Roberto Olabe made a two-footed lunge at Harrop. The referee was lenient and he escaped with a yellow.
United had a great chance to level things at the start of the second half. Byrne started on the right wing and set up Harrop but he somehow managed to miss the target in a one-on-one and dragged his shot wide.
Shortly after, Sociedad almost doubled their lead when Pereira misjudged the situation and Bautista went through on goal. Luckily, Pearson was there to put him off.
James Weir replaced the largely ineffectual Pereira in a bid to change the game it nearly did. Weir was taken down in the box but the referee didn’t award a penalty. Things seemed to improve after that substitution which was followed by two more with Ashley Fletcher and Sean Goss, who replaced Harrop and Rowley.
The game then got scrappy when Rothwell was booked for a high challenge and Pearson started to make some tired challenges as the game was coming to an end, including one in the penalty area. Pearson got booked for a challenge in the third minute of stoppage time and then received a second booking for kicking the ball away. It was quite a harsh lesson as it appears that Pearson was merely flicking the ball back to the opposition to take the free kick.
Saidy Janko had a solid debut match and then became United’s fourth player to get booked for another challenge.
Overall, it was a disappointing result for the team who look as though they’ll have to win their remaining three matches to qualify for the next round.
Manchester United: J. Pereira, Janko, McConnell, Ioannou, Rowley (Goss 76′), A. Pereira (Weir 58′), Rothwell, Pearson, Harrop (A. Fletcher 66′), Byrne, Wilson. Unused Substitutes: O’Hara, C. Evans, Willock, Barber.