Under-18 Premier League North | Kirkby | Scorers: Glatzel 70 | Bernard 47, Greenwood 59, Garner 90+5 (pen)
Manchester United Under-18s deservedly earned a first competitive win under coach Neil Ryan in an incident-packed game against Liverpool at Kirkby.
Overall there was little to choose between the sides and the game constantly swung from one end to the other. Both teams had spells of dominance and, for much of the time, it was impossible to predict the eventual outcome. A terrific match, which saw four goals and two players sent off, ended with United sealing victory in the fifth minute of added time.
There was a decent turnout of spectators on an overcast and breezy morning on Merseyside and the anticipation of the game between these two great rivals was the same as ever. Liverpool were kitted out in their famous all-red strip, while United were in blue shirts and blue shorts.
Ryan’s lads went into the match hoping to register a first win of the season after drawing 3-3 against Derby County eight days earlier in the season opener at the Aon Training Complex.
United were responsible for the first meaningful attack of the game when, in the fifth minute, Arnau Puigmal found Largie Ramazani in the area, but the Belgian youngster couldn’t find a way past Vitezslav Jaros in the Liverpool goal.
Soon after, the focus shifted to the other end where the home side went close when Rhys Williams headed over from Jake Cain’s free-kick. Moments later, Liverpool were inches away from taking the lead when American youngster Matteo Ritaccio hit a sizzling long-range shot that thumped against the post.
United then enjoyed a good spell of pressure with Ramazani, Elanga and Greenwood giving the Liverpool defence a few nervy moments. It had certainly developed into a typically feisty Liverpool-United clash with both teams putting the emphasis on the search for goals. As the half-hour mark was reached, it was Liverpool who were doing the majority of the attacking, with both Abdi Sharif and skipper Paul Glatzel going close.
United hit the ground running after the interval and, within two minutes of the restart, took the lead thanks to Di'Shon Bernard’s towering header from Puigmal’s corner. It was a great start to the second half and more was to follow.
In the 59th minute, a fabulous four-man move saw United double the lead. James Garner got the ball rolling with a terrific pass to Brandon Williams, who instantly released the ball to Aliou Traore. Greenwood was perfectly placed in the area and, when the ball reached him, the striker was charged with the simple task of slotting the ball home.
With less than 20 minutes remaining, Liverpool got a foothold in the match when Glatzel scored with a fierce close-range shot. Less than two minutes later, Liverpool suffered a blow to their ambitions when Sharif was sent off after being shown a second yellow card.
This left the match finely balanced and there was even more drama to come when, with minutes to go, United defender Williams was red carded following a lunging challenge on Neco Williams. And with virtually the final kick of the game, United wrapped up the points when Garner scored his side’s third goal from the penalty spot after he was tripped in the area.
The battle of the young Reds Gallery
Flick through our gallery of images from the Under-18s' impressive victory over Liverpool on Merseyside.
United: Fojticek; Puigmal, Bernard, Laird, B.Williams; Elanga (McCann 84), Garner, Traore, Ramazani (McGhee 65); Levitt, Greenwood. Subs not used: Carney, Hockenhull, Denham.
The Under-18s will be looking for a first home win of the season when Stoke City visit The Cliff Training Ground next Friday, 24 August, with kick-off at 19:00 BST.