Manchester United emerged the victor in the top of the table clash against Sunderland at Leigh Sports Village. After a goalless first half Reds captain James Weir finished a lovely team goal which proved the difference between the sides.
First-team squad members Adnan Januzaj, Guillermo Varela, and Andreas Pereira dropped down to the u21 team. In some ways the transition was made easier with the familiar scoreline for a home fixture as the first half ended without either side managing to break the deadlock.
However, unlike the first team, there were chances created, and decent attacking football, with Januzaj, Weir, and Andreas Pereira, providing width and the fullbacks, Varela and Joe Riley, going on overlapping runs. Will Keane led the line as United dominated much of the possession. Januzaj hit the side-netting and frequently chose to shoot rather than pass to a teammate.
There was a bit more needed in terms of defensive duties in the second half, with Joel Pereira called into action in his penalty area to close down chances for Sunderland and Mikael Mandron. Keane and Januzaj were unable to get past Maksymilian Stryjek in the Black Cats goal.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, a lovely passage of passing, culminated in a team goal, which Weir finished. Andreas Pereira picked out Matty Willock, who found Will Keane. Keane passed to Weir who fired the ball into the Sunderland net.
A crucial block from Donald Love, of which the defender seemed unaware, prevented Mandron from leveling the scores and proved that positioning is everything as his back came to the rescue to spare the blushes of Varela as Rees Greenwood had managed to get the ball into the box.
Some careless passing made for a nervy final few minutes, and United could have been ruing the missed chances at the other end of the pitch, but the Reds held on to claim the three points.
The win tonight means that United sit just three points behind Sunderland with three matches in hand on the leaders of the u21 Barclays Premier League.
Manchester United: J. Pereira, Varela, Williams, Love, Riley, Januzaj (McTominay 93′), Willock, Harrop, Weir (c), A. Pereira, Keane.
Unused Substitutes: Henderson, El Fitouri, Rothwell, Rashford.
Goal(s): Weir (69′).
Man of the Match: James Weir.
Sunderland: Stryjek, Matthews, Brady, Beadling, T. Robson, Lawson (Nelson 73′), E. Robson (Molyneux 80′), Agnew, Greenwood, Smith, Mandron.
Unused Substitutes: McEvoy, Talbot, Casey.
Bookings(s): Brady (42′), Smith (49′).