Manchester United 0 Arsenal 2: Under-23s earn spoils
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Goals from Reiss Nelson and Josh Da Silva gave Arsenal three points against Manchester United at a rainy Leigh Sports Village on Friday evening.
It was the Gunners who started the brighter and ey could have been ahead inside just 40 seconds as Nelson played in Chuba Akpom, but he sliced his effort just wide of the target from four yards out.
It was all pressure from the the visitors and if it wasn’t for a fine tackle by Scott McTominay they would have gone ahead as he denied Joe Willock a shot in on goal.
Arsenal took the lead on 32 minutes, though, as August’s Premier League 2 player of the month Nelson – who was heavily involved in Arsene Wenger’s senior squad in pre-season – fired a free-kick into the top corner, leaving Red Devils keeper Kieran O’Hara with no chance of saving.
Steve Gatting’s side were dominating possession and went further ahead five minutes later through another free-kick as Da Silva beat O’Hara with a low drive.
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The Gunners could have extended their lead three minutes into the second half as Jordi Osei-Tutu whipped a cross into the box for Akpom, but before he could connect United defender Tyrell Warren was alert to clear the danger.
Manchester United should have pulled one back as Matthew Olosunde crossed low to the back post for Zachary Dearnley, but he slid his effort wide of the target when he really should have scored on 62 minutes.
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Arsenal created another good opening when Nelson skipped past the home defence and his cross found Jeff Reine-Adelaide but he couldn’t get a clean connection on his header and this allowed Northern Ireland under 21 international Ethan Hamilton to clear.
Eddie Nketiah was putting in fine performance for the visitors and he played a defence-splitting pass into Akpom, only for Luke Shaw to make a crucial interception at the last minute before the striker – who spent time on loan at Brighton last season – could get a shot away on goal.
Demetri Mitchell thought he had put the home side back in contention as he hit a low free-kick from just outside the box goalwards, only for the ball to bounce off Ainsley Maitland Niles in the wall and sail just wide of the target.
Gatting’s side were looking to add more goals to a convincing performance and were unlucky not to be further ahead as Willock played in Reine-Adelaide but he was adjudged offside.
However, Ricky Sbragia’s Red Devils could have reduced the deficit as James Wilson was played in by McTominay but he saw his effort well saved by Ryan Huddart.
From the resulting corner Wilson had another good chance but his volley was superbly blocked by Julio Pleguezuelo as he made a last-ditch block to deny the English striker a certain goal.
In an end-to-end battle Shaw came to Manchester United’s aid once again as he cut out a fabulous through ball by Nelson, aimed for Akpom, and Mitchell then thought he had his name on the scoresheet as he whipped a free-kick over the bar from just outside the box after he was brought down on the edge of the box by Reine-Adelaide on 82 minutes.
McTominey found himself in the book on 84 minutes as the home side grew increasingly frustrated as the captain brought down Willock in midfield as Arsenal piled forward.
O’Hara was then called into action minutes later as he made a fine save to deny Nelson as the United keeper parried his low cross away from goal when the impressive Nelson was waiting to pounce for his second of the evening.
Pleguezuelo came to the Gunners rescue in the final minute with a fantastic block as Olosunde linked up well with McTominay before his cross found Warren at the back post and his shot was well blocked by the Gunners defender.
And that was how it ended as the Gunners bounced back from defeat against Liverpool, leaving Manchester United on the lookout for their first victory of the new Premier League 2 campaign.