United bowed out of the FA Youth Cup after a 1-1 draw at Chelsea was not enough to keep a hold on the prestigious trophy.
The Blues exacted revenge for defeat at the same stage last term with a 3-2 aggregate triumph thanks to Lucas Piazon's equaliser on the night after Jack Barmby kept up his record of scoring in every round of the competition with his sixth goal of the cup run.
Paul McGuinness' side settled into their stride with Jamal Blackman repelling a Barmby drive after a strong run and then supplying an alert stop to frustrate Joe Rothwell. There was an escape when Jonny Sutherland recovered to stop the ball on the line after spilling an Adam Nditi effort and the dangerous Piazon saw a shot deflect wide off skipper Luke McCullough.
But the Reds looked composed and determined and it was no real surprise when Barmby levelled the scores on aggregate by rifling past Blackman with his left foot after a splendid move involving Tyler Blackett, Rothwell and Mats Daehli. Nicolas Ioannou made one vital clearance just before the break as the tie remained on a knife-edge.
Amin Affane dragged a shot wide while Sam Byrne forced a superb save out of Blackman at the other end following another neat build-up that ended with Rothwell supplying an inviting pass. The well-matched teams continued to trade openings, McCullough blocking a Piazon drive and Liam Grimshaw getting his finish all wrong after a bold run to latch onto a Barmby through ball.
Most of the Blues' threat was coming from the left-hand side through Piazon and, after the Brazilian import forced a save out of Sutherland, he struck an equaliser with 20 minutes remaining. There was a slight suspicion of a foul when Islam Feruz eased Ioannou away from a high ball and the former Celtic forward capitalised by sprinting past McCullough to tee up Piazon for a clinical finish into the roof of the net.
Only a fingertip save by Sutherland denied Feruz a goal of his own as the holders struggled to stay in the tie but the introduction of James Wilson,