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.
Villa took control after the restart and went ahead with a soft penalty, awarded on 52 minutes when Graham went to ground as Reece James tried to pull him back. Graham wasted little time in sending Sutherland the wrong way from the spot.
United failed to respond to the setback and Joyce threw on Mats Daehli for Lawrence but the Midlanders looked in control with Graham forcing a simple save out of Sutherland after