United must come from behind at Stamford Bridge if they are to remain in the FA Youth Cup after suffering a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the semi-final first leg at Old Trafford on Friday night.
The Blues have put themselves in the driving seat in the tie thanks to goals from Amin Affane and the lively Islam Feruz. James Wilson found the net for Paul McGuinness’ men who improved after the break after struggling to get going in the opening period of an entertaining clash.
McGuinness made two changes to the side who overcame Charlton in the last round with Wilson – who scored the winner in that game against the Addicks – replacing Sam Byrne up front and Ben Pearson coming in for Lee Hendrie in central midfield.
The Reds were up against a Chelsea side who had already survived two penalty shoot-outs in the competition and come from three goals down to win 4-3 in the last round against Nottingham Forest. It was the visitors who made the early running and almost went ahead on six minutes.
A short corner from Lucas Piazon was eventually flicked on by Alex Davey into the path of Nathan Ake, but the centre-back blasted over from 10 yards under good pressure from Luke McCullough.
The Blues made no mistake with their second sight of goal though and deservedly took the lead on 14 minutes. After Piazon had skipped past a couple of challenges on the edge of United’s box he slipped the ball to Affane who swept it home low into the corner.
The Reds rallied after the early setback but were struggling to create any real clear-cut chances. Chelsea, meanwhile, continued to look a threat in attack and having laid on the first, Piazon should have done better when presented with an opportunity for number two. Nathaniel Chalobah slid a lovely pass in behind the United defence to put Piazon through, but he sent a weak effort well wide when he also had options in the middle of the box.
United defender Tyler Blackett had the fans off their seats on 34 minutes when he took aim from 35 yards after a short free-kick was laid off by Jack Rudge. Unfortunately for Blackett the ball smacked against the cross-bar and Chelsea cleared, but it was some strike.