Rojo has a run-out as Under-23s are held
Manchester United first-team players Marcos Rojo and Andreas Pereira both clocked up 45 minutes at Old Trafford on Friday night, starting for the Under-23s in a 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion.
A crowd of 2,301 supporters watched as Nishan Burkart's cheeky goal in the 20th minute gave United the lead for half-time, before Albion replied after the break. Wes Hoolahan's panenka-style penalty claimed a share of the spoils and produced a repeat of the score when the sides met at The Hawthorns late last year.
Prior notice on ManUtd.com and the Official App that Rojo and Andreas would be included in Ricky Sbragia's line-up persuaded a good number of fans to leave behind the warmth of their living rooms on a chilly evening and make a beeline for Old Trafford.
Also named in the side were starlets Mason Greenwood, James Garner, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong, all of whom have experienced action with the senior side this season.
Chong was quickly into his stride, firing the first real shot of the evening and soon after that, only a fine save from Albion ‘keeper Alex Palmer prevented Greenwood from putting United ahead.
The Reds had started the game in a really lively fashion and it was no surprise when Sbragia's side struck the game’s first blow in the 20th minute, from a fine team move instigated by Garner's ball out to Greenwood on the right wing.
Greenwood was then the architect with a beguiling run which took him deep into the visitors’ area. He couldn’t find an opening to shoot so he selflessly found Burkart, who put the ball over the line with an audacious back-heeled tap-in.
The crowd, which was filling almost six sections of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand’s lower tier, were thrilled with that flash of brilliance and they were quick to register their approval.
The inclusion of the players mentioned above had obviously given the team a lift because this was turning into one of the Reds' best performances at this level for quite a while.
Seconds before the break and United looked certain to double the advantage when Rojo sent over an inviting cross from the left, but Greenwood’s header flew past the post.
Greenwood fired into the side-netting in the early moments of the second half, but it was the visitors who were the next side to find the back of the net successfully.
West Brom winger Morgan Rogers made it all possible with a determined run into United’s area, where his progress was abruptly halted by a challenge from Di’Shon Bernard. The referee, Simeon Lucas, immediately indicated that he was awarding a penalty and Hoolahan calmly slotted home a stylish spot-kick.
Although the Reds had dominated the first half, Albion had been far from makeweights for the evening at Old Trafford and had worked hard to claw their way back into the game.
Our next assignment in Premier League 2 Division 2 will be at another first-team stadium - St James' Park - for the away clash with Newcastle United on Monday 15 April
United: Kovar; O’Connor, Bernard, Ercolani, Rojo (Tanner 46); Garner; Burkart (Bohui 72), Pereira A. (Levitt 46), Gomes, Chong; Greenwood.
Substitutes not used: Woolston, Baars.
Scorers: United - Burkart 20 | West Brom - Hoolahan pen. 60.