Manchester United’s under-23s secured their first win of the league season after an added time penalty against Everton on Friday night.
Facundo Pellistri made his first appearance for the club while there were impressive performances from Ethan Galbraith, Alvaro Fernandez and Brandon Williams.
United controlled possession in the first half and were the better team. Everton’s goalkeeper Joao Virginia made a good save to deny Pellistri while a Rojo free-kick hit the post. A delicious crossed set piece from Hannibal Mejbri teased across the six-yard box but no touch was incoming to put United in front and things stayed level for the break.
Ellis Sims put Everton in front on the hour mark. Ondrej Mastny had scrambled across his goal to make a great save to keep Sims’ first headed effort out but the Everton man tapped home the rebound.
Anthony Elanga equalised for United with a smart left-footed finish. Recently turned 17 Joe Hugill had created the chance and now has three goals and an assist in three Premier League 2 games.
Williams drew a foul in the box in the 94th minute and the referee gave an obvious penalty. Galbraith finished it off for a dramatic late win.
Three first team players involved
As well as Pellestri, it was a chance to gain match fitness for Brandon Williams and Marcos Rojo. They played on opposite sides of defence.
Williams started as United’s right-back and showed his typical tenacity and energy. He’s yet to play for United this season. Alex Telles was signed from FC Porto to compete with Luke Shaw. Williams is presumably now United’s back-up right-back after the loan departure of Diogo Dalot to AC Milan.
The Englishman made a crucial clearance to keep United in the game after a farcical clash between Mastny and Will Fish. The United ‘keeper rushed out 35 yards and took out his teammate to leave an empty net. Williams somehow made it back to prevent Everton from scoring a certain goal which would have made it 2-0. Mastny was stretchered off and replaced by Paul Woolston.
Rojo, meanwhile, was involved little in the early stages. That was until he stepped up to take a 25-yard free-kick ahead of Hannibal Mejbri. Rojo took command and swept a fantastic effort against the right post.
Pellistri shows glimpses of talent
A £10m signing, fans were understandably eager to see the very best of Facundo Pellistri. They’ll have to wait, though. The Uruguayan offered some excellent touches on the balls, some direct running and showed good awareness of what’s around him.
He does need time though – that much was clear – to settle into life in England as much as football in this country. At times in the first half, Pellistri was hesitant to take his man on and that confidence will come with more matches. That improved after the break. Perhaps a quick word from Neil Wood gave him the required confidence to run at goal more often.
He had one great chance in the first half from a cut-back and sidefooted it well but too close to the goalkeeper who saved.
A first team chance may take a few weeks to come for Pellistri. He is not, however, training with the under-23s team. In fact he, Williams and Rojo travelled to Friday night’s game separately from the rest of the under-23s squad in order to maintain the first team bubble.
Manchester United team vs Everton: Mastny, Williams, Rojo, Fish, Mengi, Galbraith, Shoretire, Mejbri, Elanga, Pellistri, Fernandez.
Subs used: Woolston, Hugill, Helm
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