Fulham V United Under 21s

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Premier League 2 provides young players with their first exposure to senior football through competitive matches against both domestic and international opposition.

Johnny Haynes scored late to seal Fulham a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage Stadium after Republic of Ireland defender Shay Brennan had put Manchester United ahead on 45 minutes.

Imani Lanquedoc put the hosts ahead

Spurs Under 18s were completely outshone by Fulham Under 21 in their final Premier League Cup group match of the season at Motspur Park. O’s coach Richie Wellens gave playing time to several fringe players and academy graduates but it was the visitors who took an early lead through Oliver Sanderson’s excellent curling shot into the top corner from 18 yards, quickly followed by Imani Lanquedoc latching onto a through ball before slotting it past Elyh Harrison for two.

Sanderson supplied Lanquedoc again at the half hour mark and his powerful volley was magnificently parried by Harrison. O’Neill and Harris came close twice while pushing hard for an equaliser.

As the second half progressed, The O’s defence continued their solid work – Dilbey-Dias and Chris Donnell blocked shots for the visitors before Ed Turns headed wide in the 78th minute. Joe Pigott came close to levelling in six minutes of added on time but his attempt hit against the crossbar.

Fulham’s superiority was clearly shown during the final 10 minutes as Lanquedoc took up an influential role, with Renaldo Torraj providing him with a delightful pass from Renaldo Torraj to find Lanquedoc – who then powered past an opponent to shoot an effort on goal which Harrison blocked with ease.

Elyh Harrison saved well

Manchester United Under-21s kicked off their EFL Trophy campaign with an emphatic 5-3 penalty shootout win against Stockport County at Edgeley Park after normal time ended 1-1. Manchester United are unbeaten this season and began this match-up by showing impressive form.

First half was relatively uneventful with both defences limiting opportunities. Imani Lanquedoc nearly broke the deadlock in 16th minute when he latched onto Luke Harris’ pass over the top, yet his shot from an acute angle flew wide of the crossbar.

United were much livelier in the second period, creating several chances early. Shola Shoretire’s long-range attempt was narrowly wide before Charlie McNeill fired a low effort that Stockport goalkeeper Connor Benjamin saved smartly.

At the close of play, both sides pushed for a victory. Olu Aigbomian nearly struck when he dribbled into the box but his attempt was blocked by Harrison. But in stoppage time Marley Wilson chipped a cross into the middle where Andreucci rose to head home a left-footed header from Marley Wilson for what would prove an equaliser goal.

Fulham were a threat in the final third

Fulham are still an impressive attacking force despite the absence of Aleksandar Mitrovic, as they enjoy high possession statistics and regularly work the ball out to wingers and attacking midfielders who rush against defences.

Fulham used its players as platforms to work back into central areas where they could send in crosses – something United were unable to match due to Fulham’s impressive intensity.

Imani Lanquedoc exploited the space behind United’s backline with numerous runs and long shots from deep, while Rhys Bennett posed a constant threat at full-back.

Fulham struggled to convert their opportunities in the final third. They finally managed to create another clear-cut chance in the 72nd minute when Shoretire’s cross was met by Collins John but incorrectly judged offside.

Fulham manager Marco Silva must address Fulham’s lack of clinical finishing when they face Chelsea on Monday, which could include intensifying their pressing high upfield to rectify it. Last season they were far less aggressive in their efforts to regain possession in advanced areas; something which must change against Chelsea given Fulham’s top-flight pedigree. Fulham must also perform better away than in recent times.

Manchester United defended well

Manchester United conceded three set piece goals within 50 hours last week – something which is truly shocking. That marks their 12th, 13th, and 14th set piece goals conceded this season! Many are quick to blame David de Gea for this turn of events but, the reality is they have conceded as many set piece goals with him than with Dean Henderson or Victor Lindelof or Harry Maguire!

At this point, this issue should have been solved already; they struggled with it last season, with various excuses given such as injuries and COVID training camps for this lack of success – yet by now they should have found a solution to their difficulties.

The Red Devils seem to struggle most when closing off wings quickly or getting their players back into position, leaving them open for high percentage chances that often find the net. Take Liverpool’s second goal against them for instance; as soon as the ball came from wide out to them they tried lining up a high line to try combining man marking and zonal defense; this failed spectacularly leaving an easy drive right at their near post unopposed.

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