Angel Gomes converted a stoppage-time penalty to give Manchester United’s Under-19s a come-from-behind victory in an entertaining and competitive UEFA Youth League opener against Young Boys.
The Swiss side took an early lead from the penalty spot but a strong United team, featuring several players who have been involved with the Under-23s so far this season, quickly drew level through Mason Greenwood’s emphatic finish.
Nicky Butt’s side were on top for large periods thereafter in Bern but looked set to be denied by some resilient Young Boys defending, only for Gomes’s late intervention after Brandon Williams had been upended inside the box.
U19s: Young Boys v United Gallery
The best images from an entertaining UEFA Youth League match in Switzerland.
The young Reds, like their first-team counterparts at the nearby Stade de Suisse, were playing on an artificial pitch at Sportpark Wyler and made a bright start in the Swiss sunshine.
With seven minutes gone, Greenwood pounced to dispossess goalkeeper Joschua Neuenschwander and squared the ball to Tahith Chong, who could only fire over from six yards under pressure from a defender.
And though Shkelqim Vladi went close for Young Boys with a powerful 25-yard free-kick, the home side’s opening goal came somewhat against the run of play.
Chong was adjudged to have handled Vladi’s cross from the left inside the box and Jan Kronig stepped up to send Matej Kovar the wrong way from 12 yards.
But United’s response wasn’t long in coming as in-form Greenwood latched on to James Garner’s knockdown to smash home his eighth goal in six games at youth level so far this term.
Chong was having plenty of joy down United’s right and, after an incisive break, the Reds’ no.11 picked out Aidan Barlow to blast a first-time shot just wide of the post.
Ten minutes before the break, Chong was involved again as he sprinted on to Greenwood’s through-ball and rolled a pass across the box towards Joshua Bohui, who was inches away from connecting with it and the sides went in level.
Chong had a goal disallowed for offside early in the second period, before Young Boys served notice of their threat as Steve Tokam Membou shot narrowly wide and substitute Robin Golliard forced Kovar into a fine save.
Young Boys captain Kreshnik Hajrizi then could not direct his effort on target after the home side had won a free-kick in an inviting position just outside the box.
The pace of the game understandably slowed a little in the afternoon heat but the tackles kept flying in and George Tanner was forced off through injury.
Chong almost restored United’s lead after cutting inside from the right and letting fly, only for Neuenschwander to superbly tip the ball onto the post.
It looked as though the spoils would be shared but, in time added on, substitute Williams was felled and Gomes made no mistake from the spot to secure what could be a vital away win, with trips to Juventus and Valencia to come.
Match details: UEFA Youth League, Sportpark Wyler | Scorers: Kronig 15 pen; Greenwood 21, Gomes pen 90
United: Kovar; Laird, O'Connor, Bernard, Tanner (Williams 70); Barlow (Puigmal 85), Garner, Gomes; Chong, Bohui (Traore 68), Greenwood (Baars 85). Subs not used: Fojticek, Dunne, Levitt.
What's next? United's next Youth League assignment is at home to Valencia on 2 October. The Under-18s' next fixture is away to West Brom on Saturday 22 September, with kick-off at 11:30 BST.