Playing at the Salford City Stadium, Manchester United’s u21s took on league leaders Tottenham, bolstered by Younes Kaboul, and emerged victorious in a hard fought for win.
Spurs got off to a good start and had the first chance of the game on 6 minutes when Michele Fornasier was robbed of the ball by Ceballos, the Spaniard fired off a shot but Amos did really well to save at his near post. To make matters worse, Veseli did his hamstring 20 yards from the Spurs goal when put clean through following a superb pass from Cole.
The youngster limped off, replaced by Tyler Blackett.
United were struggling to keep up with the visitors and every time they won the ball, they were so deep with Januzaj as a lone striker, that they lost the ball back to Spurs again almost immediately after.
United with 2 efforts off the woodwork
Despite Spurs’ dominance, out of nowhere United created the best chance of the game. United regained possession with Januzaj releasing Tunnicliffe, he found Lingard and the midfielder fired at Vigouroux’s goal but his strike hit the outside of the far post. 2 minutes later Vigoroux was really lucky again when Ekangamene stole the ball in midfield and gave it to Januzaj – he advanced, noticed Vigoroux off his line and bent and effort only to again hit the outside of the post.
Suddenly Spurs were under siege, Tunnicliffe drilled the ball straight at Vigoroux who punched the ball straight into the mix, Blackett latched onto the rebound and set up Lingard who tries to curl the ball around the keeper from 13-14 yards out but Vigoroux did really well to turn the effort out for a corner.
The first 30 minutes was really entertaining with Spurs completely dominating the first 15 minutes – before United created 3-4 big chances in the space of 5-6 minutes.
Kaboul come close with a 30 yard free-kick
Spurs then came really close to breaking the deadlock on 35 minutes when Spurs were awarded a freekick 30 yards out. Kaboul drove the ball low at goal, and a combination of the pace of the ball and the wet pitch almost tricked Amos, but the keeper somehow managed to turn the ball away for a corner with what appeared to be his upper-arm or shoulder.
With 5 minutes of the first-half remaining the floodlights failed, after a short break the referee decided to play the remaining 5 minutes in rather dark conditions. It soon emerged that the power failure affected the entire area.
After just 2 minutes in the second half, Kaboul walked straight off the pitch with an injury, and was replaced by Jake Barthram. A big blow for Kaboul and Spurs as the defender had been out since august, and now probably will miss the rest of the season as well. As a result of the injury, former United boy Fryers moved into central defense and substitute Barthram moved into left-back.
United hit the woodwork twice before the break – and on 54 minutes Spurs joined the act when Ceballos struck a superb freekick against the bar with Amos. Seconds later Januzaj came close to scoring when Lingard found him in space, but Vigoroux did really well to block his effort.
Ryan Tunnicliffe with the first goal of the game
With both side having chances the deadlock was finally broken in the 56th minute when Ryan Tunnicliffe who gave United the lead. The dangerous Lingard was afforded too much space on the left, and he spotted Tunnicliffe making a run into the box. Tunnicliffe was both lucky and impressive as he managed to get the ball past Fryers and poke it between the legs of Vigoroux.
Coulthirst had been quiet for the first hour but came really close on 63 minutes. He chested down a long ball, and under pressure from Fornasier, managed to stick his foot out and poke the ball towards the goal but Amos got out quickly and blocked the effort.
Vigoroux once again stopped Lingard
United were really taking the game to Spurs now and produced an impressive passage of play that should have seen another goal. Tunnicliffe and Lingard combined to send Cole through clear on goal. Under pressure he squared the ball for Lingard who tried to take the ball around Vigoroux, but the keeper did well to block the effort. Just a minute later United hit the woodwork for the third time. A corner was headed down by Thorpe at the far post – Cole unmarked 20 yards out, hit the inside of the post and Spurs survived yet again.
Ekangamene was the first player to be given a yellow card after lunging into a tackle on 75 minutes. He could have no complaints about that one.
United now moved a bit deeper and Spurs created very little despite having the ball a lot, and United actually looked more dangerous going forward.
Januzaj should have had a penalty
On 85 minutes United should have had a penalty when Veljkovic stuck his leg out and sent Januzaj tumbling. The question is how much contact there was, but there appeared to be a sufficient amount for the referee to award the penalty.
Spurs pushed forward in the final 5 minutes but didn’t really threaten Ben Amos and United earned their win, and mow sit 5 points behind the London club with a game in hand.
This was a strong all-round performance by United where all players did really well, but a few players deserve extra credit. Ben Amos made a couple of really good saves and he showed a lot of strength and maturity when dealing with crosses. Jesse Lingard was involved in almost everything United created and could have had 3-4 assists, and finally Tom Thorpe didn’t put a foot wrong in defence.
Ben Amos – Reece James, Tom Thorpe, Michele Fornasier, Marnick Vermijl – Jesse Lingard, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Frederic Veseli (Tyler Blackett 8), Charni Ekangament, Larnell Cole – Adnan Januzaj
Subs: Johnny Sutherland, Tom Lawrence, Tyler Blackett, Gyliano Van Velzen, Luke Hendrie,
Lawrence Vigoroux, Ryan Frederics, Grant Hall, Younes Kaboul (Jake Barthram 47), Zeki Fryers – Laste Dombaxe (Giancarlo Gallifuoco 61), Milos Veljkovic, Nabil Bentaleb – Christian Ceballos, Shaquille Coulthirst, Kenneth McEvoy (Roman Michael Purcel 66)