Manchester United u23’s had to settle for a hard-fought point on Friday night as they came back to draw 1-1 against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, thanks to Largie Ramazini’s first goal at u23 level.
It was a week that United’s academy staff would have been proud to see after regular options for Ricky Sbragia were not considered because of their involvement in Paris during the week. Brandon Williams, James Garner, Angel Gomes, Tahith Chong, and Mason Greenwood will all have benefited hugely from the experience in one the most memorable nights in the club’s history of knockout football in Europe.
This meant Sbragia had to rely on his midfield consisting of a trio from the under 18’s- Ethan Galbraith, Dylan Levitt, and Aliou Traore. Centre back Di’Shon Bernard and Ramazini were also selected.
Sunderland went into half-time a goal up thanks to Benjamin Kimpioka, but a battling performance from the Red Devils in the second half led to Ramazini equalizing. Due to the injury situation in the first team and many academy players got promoted. This was a good opportunity for some of the young and inexperienced players to have the chance to play at one of England’s most famous stadiums.
It was a very cold and wet Friday night and this may have had an effect on Sbragia’s men because there were no clear-cut chances in the opening minutes, but Sunderland started the better of the two sides, with United becoming livelier in the final ten minutes of the first-half.
Ramazani and Nishan Burkart were instrumental in many of United’s best moves and, in the 34th minute, their combined good work almost brought United a goal when Joshua Bohui laid the ball back to the lively Ramazani but his inviting cross was, unfortunately, headed way off target by Burkart.
However, two minutes later United’s improvement was halted when the Wearside team took the lead through some nice build-up play and a cool finish from Kimpioka. In the second half, United were the more dangerous team with plenty of ball possession and were causing more of a threat to Max Stryjek’s goal.
United were pushing on for the equalizer and clearly deserved something from the game. This became a possibility with nine minutes left when Galbraith’s clever ball fed Burkart and his cross was converted at the far post by Ramazani, who showed great desire to beat Jordan Hunter to the final touch after a move containing 19 passes in all. United had more chances to win it, but it remained honors even at the full-time whistle.
United: Fojticek; Tanner (Olosunde 67), Ercolani, Bernard, O’Connor; Levitt, Galbraith, Traore; Burkart, Bohui, Ramazani.