Liverpool U21 beaten by Man United at home

Alex Inglethorpe's Liverpool Under-21 side saw their Premier League title challenge end against a Manchester United side that are peaking at the right stage of the season.

At times in this campaign the reds have exhibited some fantastic football - taking the club to 2nd behind Chelsea in the 21 game group stage.

But it is Man United who peaked at the right time and looked the more combatative, before a great 43rd minute striker from Andreas Pereira decided the game.

LFC U21 v Man Utd U21


LFC TEAM: Fulton, McLaughlin, Smith, Paez, Lloyd Jones (c), Williams, Peterson, Lussey, Dunn, Brannagan, Teixeira
Bench: Randall, Ward, Maguire, Wilson, Bijev

MUFC TEAM: Amos, Varela, James (c), Pearson, McNair, Ekangamene, Janko, Rothwell, Wilson, Lawrence, A.Pereira
Bench: Weir, J. Pereira, Harrop, Love, Willoc

Friday night football at Anfield, and at the important end of the season this featured two of the top sides in the Barclays U21 Premier League.  Liverpool, thanks to their 2nd placed finish, were able to play this semi-final at Anfield against 3rd placed Manchester United.  Chelsea had beaten Man City the night earlier, although it required penalties to separate the two sides, to book the first place in the final.

Back to Anfield - and a healthy crowd in the thousands was present to witness the old rivaly recommence.  The U21's hadn't played United since back in August, at Old Trafford, when we were on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline.

United started this game the better - the physical presence of Saidy Janko unsettling a hesitant Brad Smith at left back. A 1st minute free kick at the edge of the box was wasted by United, before shortly after Smith almost gift-wrapped an opener for the opponents.

His tame backpass was intercepted by James Wilson, but bearing down on a one-on-one with reds keeper Ryan Fulton, Lawrence only managed to hit the post in front of the Kop. A big let off.

Brannagan recorded Liverpool's first shot on target, but his looped effort was easily dealt with.

At a match predominantly containing young children and families it was a shame to hear the 150 or so travelling Manchester United fans continue with their Heysel and Hillsborough chants.  The match was well inside the first 10 minutes when this began.

Back to the football and a quick break from Liverpool saw Jack Dunn power down the wing - his cross into the box just leaving a little too much for the incoming Jordan Lussey to do.

Teixeira attempted an ambitious free kick in the middle of the first half but it's curve was even more aggresive than he had hoped as it went wide of the near post. The Portugese 21 year old was a central figure for the red men but had a tendency to overplay at times and occasionally ceding posession.  There was little in the match until 2 minutes before half-time when United's Andreas Pereira unleashed a fine shot from outside the box that sailed neatly over the LFC keeper to give United a crucial first half lead.

United continued their good play into the start of the 2nd half - clearly boosted further by their late first half strike.

Ryan McLaughlin was being worked hard down the wings but on a rare reds forward move Rafael Paez had a header in a good position but sent it straight at the keeper.

The game was scrappy, and the first LFC change eventually arrived in the 70th minute. 18 year old Connor Randall sent on for Ryan McLaughlin.

As the clock counted down the reds saw more of the ball. Peterson was given plenty of time at the edge of the box - but this new found freedom was hard to deal with and when he eventually decided what to with it (a throughball to Dunn) United's keeper had reacted quicker.

Liverpool improved in the final period of the game, the oncoming Bijev with a glorious opportunity to level but blazing over from 6 yards.

Despite the pressure cranking up significantly in the final 10 minutes, United held on to record a deserved victory and LFC's U21 season is over.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Lloyd Jones - the only player worthy of a senior squad call up on tonight's performance.

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