Man United’s U21s won 1-0 against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford as the youngsters look to retain the Barclays u21 Premier League. Paddy McNair scored the only goal of the game in the 67th minute.
Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones were in the starting line-up as they looked to get minutes under their belts as they return from injury. Warren Joyce continued his policy of not rotating the captain’s armband to senior players who drop down with James Weir leading the team out.
Early on Cameron Borthwick-Jackson made a good run down the left flank but there was no United player attacking the box and the full-back’s pass across the face of goal went unmet and out for a goal kick. Arnel Jakupovic emerged with the ball after come poor defending from Ro-Shaun Williams, but Sam Johnstone was on hand to direct the ball away from goal.
James Weir created a lovely chance after a Paddy McNair pass. He turned and hit a well placed shot but Joe Fryer in the Middlesbrough goal got across to make the save. However, the big talking point of the first half was the challenge on Joe Rothwell by Boro captain Jonny Burn.
The defender went in late in a studs up tackle just under knee level. No card or free-kick was given but as a result of the tackle Joe Rothwell‘s night ended early as he was unable to continue and had to be replaced by Andreas Pereira. Weir’s night also came to a close with the forward being replaced at half-time as he was too sore to stay on the pitch following a kick to the knee.
Andreas Pereira was influential following his introduction as he took over the captain’s armband from Weir for the second half. He sent in a decent ball from the left flank which was floated into Devonte Redmond in the at the back pass but the midfielder failed to fully commit and didn’t make contact with the ball.
The Belgian-born Brazilian was then heavily involved in the goal. He won a free-kick on right wing which he took quickly, linking up with Sadiq El Fitouri. Pereira then played the ball into the box. Joe Riley who played at both right-back to left wing during the game did well to draw the defenders to him which left McNair free in the penalty area to fire home.
Boro were fighting hard to get back into the game but United were still creating chances. Joe Riley almost got a header but was marshalled by Burn. Andreas Pereira saw a thunderous strike from distance beat Fryer only to be denied by the woodwork. He followed up shortly afterwards with a low, curling effort which was saved by Fryer.
The victory coupled with defeats for Sunderland and Chelsea means that a win against Tottenham Hotspur will hand United the u21 league title.
Man United: Johnstone, Riley, Jones, Williams, Borthwick-Jackson, Rothwell (A. Pereira 39′), Love, McNair, Redmond, Weir (c) (El Fitouri 46′), Rooney (Tuanzebe 61′).
Unused Substitutes: J. Pereira, Poole.
Goal(s): McNair (67′).
Man of the Match: Paddy McNair.
Middlesbrough: Fryer, Johnson, Burn (c), Fry, McGinley, Tinkler, Jones (Kitching 72′), Wheatley, Jakupovic, McAloon (Morris 78′), Cooke
Unused Substitutes: Pears, Maloney, Elsdon.