Barclays U-21 Premier League
Saturday 27 October
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4
(Veljkovic 23, Ceballos 65, Bentaleb 83, Obika 84)
MANCHESTER UNITED 2
(Lingard 15, Lawrence 86)
Manchester Under-21s slipped to a first defeat in the Barclays U21 Premier League on Saturday morning after losing 4-2 to an impressive Tottenham Hotspur side.Both teams started the game brightly, and the Reds were lucky to get away without conceding the game’s first goal just before the quarter-hour mark, when the impressive Alex Pritchard cut inside and hit a shot against Sam Johnstone’s crossbar, with the young keeper left grasping thin air. That scare pushed the Reds into immediate action, as Jesse Lingard tucked United into an early lead just two minutes later, after Joshua King’s driving run towards the line and cutback found the young midfielder with the goal at his mercy.
However, the hosts responded well to going behind, as right-back Ryan Fredricks forced Sam Johnstone into a good save with his feet with his feet by the near post, before levelling within eight minutes later. In an similar fashion to United’s goal, Cristian Ceballos’ cutback from the touchline somehow avoided the massed red shirts in the box and presented Serbian midfielder Milos Veljkovic with the easiest of tap-ins to level the scores at 1-1.
Spurs continued to press, and Johnstone was almost called into action again, as a curling effort from Jonathan Obika spun wide of the post, whilst at the other end, Robbie Brady, Jesse Lingard and Joshua King all spurned good chances in quick succession to restore United’s lead.
The Reds were almost punished for this period of poor finishing, as Tottenham’s Jack Barthram also missed the target from close range after United had failed to clear Fredricks’ ball in. The visitors had further chances to go ahead before the break, as Brady and Tunnicliffe stung the palms of Spurs goalkeeper Jonathan Miles, and Michael Keane headed over from close range following Lingard’s corner.
Joshua King was withdrawn at half time through injury to be replaced by Tom Lawrence, and it was Spurs who enjoyed the greater spoils of the early stages of the second period. Ceballos forced a good save from Johnstone from a freekick, whilst Pritchard’s shot was turned off the line by Keane.
United, now missing the power and pace of King up front, went behind on 65 minutes, as the excellent Ceballos fired a swerving long range strike past Johnstone to give Spurs a deserved lead. Ceballos was involved again just two minutes later, as his cross found Obika unmarked at the far post, and the Reds were lucky to not concede as he headed into the ground, only to see the ball loop up and over the crossbar. The hosts continued to press for a third, and again Obika came close, as his powerful shot from range flew inches past the far post as United struggled to stay in touching distance of the hosts.
United’s first real sight of goal in the second half came with just 18 minutes to go, and Lingard will be disappointed not to have made more of his header after Larnell Cole’s corner was completely missed by goalkeeper Miles.
At the other end, Johnstone did well to keep the Reds in the game after Ceballos failed to take a glorious opportunity, but Spurs did go 3-1 up when a long-range strike from substitute Nabil Bentaleb flew past Johnstone.
Bentaleb had only been on the field for a matter of seconds prior to scoring and he was involved again as Obika rubbed salt in the wounds by slotting under Johnstone for the second Spurs goal in as many minutes to all but seal the win.
The quickfire scoring didn’t end there, however, as Tom Lawrence went straight down the other end to fire a fantastic shot past Miles. However, it was too little, too late for the Reds, who drop below Spurs in the table, albeit with a game in hand over table toppers Newcastle United.
United: Johnstone, Veseli, McGinty, Thorpe (Blackett 82), Keane, Fornasier, Cole, Tunnicliffe, King (Lawrence 46), Lingard, Brady. Subs not used: Ekangemane, Sutherland, James.