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U21 Report: Manchester United 1-2 Fulham – Barclays U21 Premier League

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After four games without a win in the league Manchester United’s U21’s got back on track with a 2-1 win against Liverpool and last week and went into tonight’s game against Fulham knowing a win would put them joint top of the league. As has been the case all season United made changes to the team as Rafael da Silva, Andreas Pereira, Josh Harrop, James Weir and Ashley Fletcher came into the team in place of now departed Marnick Vermijl, Víctor Valdés, Anderson, Jesse Lingard and Paddy McNair.

The game started at a hectic pace with both Pereira and Weir having powerful shots blocked following a strong run from Saidy Janko who was playing in an unfamiliar left-back role. United took an early lead which their dominance deserved as Weir capitalized on a poor pass and slid the ball through to Nick Powell who poked the ball powerfully into the bottom corner from 12 yards to make it 1-0 after seven minutes. United went close to extending their lead a couple of minutes later as the Fulham keepers headed clearance fell to Harrop who chipped the ball goalwards from 30 yards but the keeper got back to make the save.

The opening 20 minutes was all United with Pereira, Weir and Harrop prominent in midfield and Rafael looking dangerous every time he came forward down the right as he linked particularly well with Pereira. Fulham were struggling to get out of their half as United pressed really quickly and denied them any time or space on the ball. Despite United’s dominance they struggled to make any clear-cut chances as Fulham defended deep and got numbers behind the ball and United went into half time leading 1-0.

United again started brightly in the second half and were close to going 2-0 up in the 47th minute as Pereira’s right-wing free kick found its way to Powell on the edge of the but his bicycle kick was too central and was saved by Norman in the Fulham goal. United went even closer a minute later as Pereira’s corner found the head of Tyler Blackett whose powerful effort was pushed away by Norman with the rebound being put over the bar from close range by a combination of Tom Thorpe and a defender. Pereira’s influence was growing and following a strong run where he beat a couple of tackles his left footed strike from the edge of the box flew just over the bar.

Despite all their dominance United were made to pay for not taking their chances in the 56th minute as Mesca’s cross from the left-wing was smashed home by Richards at the front post to make it 1-1. Following the goal Fulham had their best spell of the game as they began to come forward a bit more and after Janko lost the ball on the edge of the Fulham box they broke quickly as sprinted forward and Taggart held off the challenge of Thorpe before sliding the ball past Pereira to make it 2-1 to Fulham with only their 2nd shot on target in the 64th minute.

Following the turn around United were looking slightly shell-shocked and devoid of ideas although they could have been level if Thorpe had managed to get a touch on Blackett’s flick on from Pereira’s corner but he couldn’t stretch far enough to get a touch. Corners were looking like United’s most likely route back into the game in the latter stages as Powell twice had efforts saved by Norman before volleyed narrowly wide from the edge of the box from another Pereira delivery. As time ran out United moved Thorpe forward as an emergency centre forward but it was all in vain as Fulham held out for a 2-1 victory in a game United will be very disappointed to have thrown away.

Manchester United: J.Pereira; Rafael, Thorpe, Blackett, Janko; James, Harrop (Willock 72′), A.Pereira, Weir; Powell, A.Fletcher (Grimshaw 79′) Substitutes Not Used: O’Hara, Love, C.Evans

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