A youthful United side were beaten 1-0 at home by Aston Villa in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League with Jordan Graham hitting the winner from the penalty spot.
Warren Joyce was forced to field a much-changed side with a number of his regulars drafted into the first-team squad for the Champions League trip to Galatasaray. Four players made their first start in the Under-21 league and substitute Liam Grimshaw came off the bench for a debut appearance at this level.
It was very much a case of nip and tuck in the opening period with defences on top and Villa's Janoi Donacien particularly impressive at the heart of their back four. Reds skipper Bebe saw a dangerous cross held by Craig Hill and the keeper made a top stop to thwart Adnan Januzaj, who lashed in a first-time shot after Tom Lawrence was dispossessed on 14 minutes.
Jonny Sutherland made saves of his own to keep out a Michael Drennan free-kick and a Jack Grealish header but United were unlucky not to go in front when Januzaj flicked a Luke Hendrie pass into Lawrence's path. The Welshman showed audacious skill to dummy a defender but Hill pulled off a fine stop to keep the scores level.
Sutherland had to show his quality again at the other end after Lawrence was caught in possession by Jordan Graham, who belted in a near-post drive that the Reds' No1 did well to turn away.
Bebe dragged shots off target after positive runs towards the end of the half, one into the side-netting, but Angelo Henriquez was sometimes a little isolated in attack as the teams went in for the break deadlocked.