United's Under-18s began the Premier Academy League campaign with defeat to Southampton at Carrington.
Paul McGuinness' young Reds got off to a flying start and took the lead early on, but conceded three second-half goals as the south coast visitors claimed all the points.
United had gone in front in the 17th minute when midfielder Ryan Tunnicliffe finished well after a neat throughball from William Keane. In a fiesty first-half the Reds pushed forward on plenty of occasions but couldn't add to the lead, and after the break Southampton clinically took advantage of that.
Just four minutes after the break they got an equaliser, and within three minutes added a second after Reece Brown conceded a penalty, which was duly converted past Reds goalkeeper Sam Johnstone. The Reds rallied and pushed for a second goal; Robbie Brady missed a good opportunity following fine work on the right wing by Nicky Ajose, while Ravel Morrison went close with an effort from the edge of the area which went narrowly wide.
Tunnicliffe was denied his second of the day by a superb save from Southampton's goalkeeper. But in committing men forward in search of an equaliser, United were vulnerable to counter attacks and the Saints clinched victory with a superb strike late on. The defeat will frustrate U18s coach Paul McGuinness, not least because his side were, for large parts of the game, the better side.
United: Johnstone; Brown (Cole 83), Scott Wootton, Tom Thorpe, Fryers (Hussain 83); Ajose, Morrison, Tunnicliffe, Brady; Keane, Cofie (Ngoo 66).