Manchester United drew 2-2 with Norwich City at Old Trafford on Thursday evening, meaning that they have failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the Barclays U21 Premier League, and will need all three points against Reading next Thursday will be needed to ensure they are able to successfully defend their title this season. It was substitute James Weir who netted both of United’s goals after having been introduced into the match when James Wilson was forced out of the match with an injury on the 52nd minute. Norwich City striker Carlton Morris put his side back into the match from the spot and despite Raymond Grant being shown a second yellow card for diving, the visitors were able to find a last minute equaliser through Reece Hall-Johnson.
The young Red Devils dominated the first half of the match, but did not really test the Norwich goalkeeper Remi Matthews. Wilson sent his effort skywards and was off target for two other shots after linking with Andreas Pereira on the attack. A Pereira free-kick led to a shout for a penalty after a handball inside the box, but it was not given. Joe Rothwell miskicked his shot after Saidy Janko found him with a cross, but despite this, there was no threat against the visiting side. Wilson’s injury seven minutes into the second half left United with no out-and-out striker, putting pressure on the side who still needed to find the back of the net. Pereira was moved into a central attacking role and worked the Norwich goalkeeper on the hour mark after a pass by Ben Pearson.
United took the lead after Rothwell back-heeled the ball down the line to Guillermo Varela, who released Janko. Pereira’s shot was deflected up into the air and Louis Rowley nudged his header past Matthews which left Weir to simply touch the ball ensuring it crossed the line. United were 1-0 up in the match and the semi-finals looked that little bit closer. United doubled their lead after Varela crossed the ball from the right and Weir buried the ball into the back of the net. United were 2-0 up and cruising to victory. Norwich replied with 10 minutes of the match remaining with Morris scoring from the spot after a Rowley hand ball inside the box. Joel Castro Pereira went the right way to save the penalty, but it found its way under him.
It was a heart in your mouth finale, which Raymond Grant saw red after being shown a second yellow card for a dive after a Pearson challenge. Norwich kept pushing and found an equalising goal through Hall-Johnson, which beat Joel Castro Pereira. United had three minutes of injury time to score to ensure they qualify for the semi-finals with one match remaining. Reece James fired a cross into the box but Matthews caught it at full stretch. United still fought on until the final whistle, but now a victory against Reading at the Madejski Stadium next Thursday will see them into the knock out stages of the competition.
Manchester United: J. Pereira; Varela, McNair, Ekangamene, James; Pearson, Rowley; Janko, Rothwell, A. Pereira; Wilson (Weir 52′)
Substitutes Not Used: Gollini, Rudge, Harrop, McConnell
[tb_fixtures comp=”205″ season=”965″ club=”2252″ linktext=”View all fixtures” title=”Barclays U21 Premier League Fixtures”]
By Paul Bienkowski
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