Report: Demetri Mitchell scored a stunning free-kick to beat Leicester City in the first U23 game of the season


Manchester United beat Leicester City 1-0 in their first Premier League 2 match of the season. Only Liverpool and Sunderland had won this weekend with United joining them at the top of the league, not in the same light as the first team due to goal difference. Demetri Mitchell was the man of the moment, scoring a sublime free-kick in the 62nd minute of the match. Leicester had their spells of control, having more than a lion’s share of corner not able to get the better of United throughout the match. A great last-minute save from Kieran O’Hara may have saved United from a draw, but all around, Ricky Sbragia’s side did well.

Ricky Sbragia names a strong line up for his first Premier League 2 match away to Leicester City at the clubs training ground. United started well with Joe Riley now playing as a right-winger, instead of a fullback which could bring out the best in his game. In the tenth minute, Scott McTominay was fouled with the referee only giving a free-kick, no card for the Leicester player. Demetri Mitchell took the free-kick, aiming straight for the goalkeeper, who thwarted United’s first credible chance of the game. United looked lively throughout the early stages of the first half. A chance on goal came after 21 minutes of so with Leicester defender Robert Huth clearing the threat for his side.

United continued to dominate the match with Leicester not really getting all that much involvement. Much like the first team at Old Trafford on Sunday, United’s U23’s were dominant and seeking that opening goal of their season. In the 35th minute, United seemed to be getting somewhere, striking on goal, but the Leicester goalkeeper made the same. In the 37th minute, United had a free-kick, taken by Kieran O’Hara from the edge of his own box with Leicester clearing and United regaining possession. In the 38th minute, Josh Bohui looked strong at the edge of the box, weaving in the box to aim his shot on goal. He was pushed out of the box, crossing to the other flank with United not able to get a shot on goal.

There was five minutes remaining in the first half and both teams were getting stuck in, seeking that opening goal to head into the break in a good position. Mitchell on the left flank was using his pace and ability to try to create a chance for his team with Leicester remaining strong in defence. Mitchell had some good interplay with Joe Riley and Tosin Kehinde who was fouled in Leicester’s half with no card being shown again, despite it being a bookable offence. United were still looking dominant in the Leicester half with Riley crossing over the box, a little too high for Leicester to be given the time to regroup with three minutes of the half remaining. Matty Willock’s shot, which hit the post was still the best chance of the first half.

Indy Boonen, stepping up from the U18’s this season was having a good spell playing the number ten role. This United side have a lot of attacking talent and ability on and off the ball. United seemed determined to get something from this half and with one added minute, they had the chance to head into the break with the advantage, as long as they find the back of the net. Leicester had the chance to create something, putting a cross into the box, which was cleared by United and hoofed up field. McTominay took a knock in the late stages of the first half and received treatment on the pitch. McTominay continued in the half with it ending 0-0. A scrappy game with United playing well so far. More to come from both sides no doubt.

At the start of the second half, Sbragia did not make any changes to the team who were doing so well in the first half. United continued to get the better of their hosts once again but still seeking that elusive goal. United are now playing against the breeze, which could hamper them in the second half. Leicester City seemed to get brighter getting a chance on goal in the 49th minute of the match, hitting the side netting. Lucky for United there with the home side looking good in the second half. In the 55th minute of the match, Kieran O’Hara and Tyrell Warren seemed to clash with both having some treatment on the pitch by both United’s and Leicester’s physios. O’Hara looked alright to continue and Warren waved away the stretcher, both back in the game.

United on the attack through Mitchell, having a good run down the left-hand side, getting past one Leicester player, unable to get past the other. The ball went out of action and a goal kick was given but United should have been awarded the corner. On the hour mark, United were playing well and getting through, but unable to get a credible shot. Bohui was adjudged to have made a foul and a free-kick was given to the home side, who immediately went on the attack, being thwarted by United who were back on the ball. United won a free-kick in the 61st minute after Kehinde was fouled and Huth was booked. In the 62nd minute, Mitchell, taking the free kick hit the back of the net with a stunning goal. United were 1-0 up, at last. After the goal, Leicester took Huth off.

Leicester made their second change of the match in the 65th minute while they were waiting for a new ball. United still yet to make any changes in the game. On the attack, Kehinde played a great pass to Riley, who passed to McTominay who was unable to double United’s advantage. United were still playing well, getting forward for much of the match and aiming to get behind the Leicester defence. Joe Riley seems to be having a better second half, getting forward, have passes played out to him with him trying to help United double their lead, but it was not coming for them, yet at least. Leicester had been trying to get back into the game, that not happening due to United’s defensive discipline. McTominay cleared a shot from Leicester, which could have gone anywhere.

United now defending a corner with everyone back inside the box and around the area. Leicester tried to get the advantage but the best they could get was another corner. Perhaps McTominay was tripped with United getting a free-kick, but the corner was given. The game was well-balanced at this stage, apart from the scoreline. Leicester won another corner with United needing to make the clearance and get out of their own half. Mitchell made the clearance, giving a throw in to the home side. The throw in was played into the box and United made the run through Mitchell. Riley also getting involved. United then won a corner to cause the home side some problems. Kehinde took the corner, McTominay almost scoring. Another corner was awarded to United.

With 15 minutes of the match remaining, the home side had a chance to cause some pressure of their own, it not working for them. United cleared their area and tried to create and attacking play, Leicester gaining possession again. Leicester had a free-kick, hitting it too high and too far to cause United any danger. In the 78th minute, Bohui had the chance to double United’s lead running behind the defence but unable to get his shot on target. Some good interplay between Kehinde, Boonen, and Riley created another chance for United, them unable to capitalise from the good play. With ten minutes to play, United were still on top of the game, despite being outnumbered on the Leicester attack, which came to nothing. United kept their heads.

Leicester made their third and final change of the match, United yet to make a change in the game. United were still pushing for another goal to win the game, getting forward and out playing the home side. Willock, Riley, and Kehinde were doing well in the final third with United not getting what they had been working for. Still 1-0 up and winning, the three points could still head back to Manchester. Leicester put the ball out for a United throw in, allowing the visitors to regroup and launch another attack. United, through Bohui, Boonen, and Kehinde got forward, Leicester cutting out the pass to thwart the attack. United had a throw in, Matthew Olosunde going down after the challenge and Leicester getting forward and launching a shot which O’Hara saved.

IN the late stages of the match, Mitchell won the header and seemed to be fouled. United made their first change with Ethan Hamilton replacing Indy Boonen in the 87th minute of the match. Leicester had a corner, not getting anything from it. O’Hara took the goal kick to send United forward again. Hamilton will add some much-needed physicality in the latter stages of the match. Leicester’s crosses seemed to create problems, only that they had nothing on the end of them. McTominay was down again with just under two minutes left, seemingly smacking his head on the ground when going down trying to cut out a pass. McTominay was replaced in the 90th minute with DJ Buffonge taking his place.

United got on the attack again, Buffonge being adjudged to be offside, a free-kick given to Leicester. Six minutes were added at the end of the match will the home side still looking to get back into the match and stop United leaving the Midlands with all three points. Leicester had a free-kick, something to help them get something from the game. It was taken and O’Hara made the save, giving away a corner which was too long and high for the home side to get anything from it. Leicester;s set-pieces were a little iffy during this match. United pushed up into Leicester’s half, getting the ball into the corner and it going out of play. From the Leicester throw in, they got on the attack, the chance being thwarted by United.

United had a little bit of pressing to deal with in the late stages of the match with Leicester getting everything forward. O’Hara made a magnificent save in the 95th minute to deny Leicester the equaliser. The goalkeeper kept Leicester’s effort out again, giving away another corner. Leicester seem to have realised their much-needed urgency, which came too late for them to get anything from this match. United guarding their line well. A Leicester throw in was put out of play just as the whistle was blown. A magical moment from Demetri Mitchell won this tie for United. Their first three points in the bag this season. Ricky Sbragia will be pleased with that result, even if there is more for his side to be doing. It is early days though.

Goals: Demetri Mitchell 62′

Manchester United: O’Hara; Olosunde, Warren, Williams, Mitchell; Willock, McTominay (Buffonge 90′); Riley, Boonen (Hamilton 87′), Kehinde; Bohui

Substitutes Not Used: Scott, Richardson, Sang

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