12/09/2017 16:50, Report by Adam Marshall
UEFA Youth League | Leigh Sports Village | Scorers: Barlow 5, Boonen 50, Gomes 57 (pen), Bohui 62 (pen) | Pululu 14, Lokaj 58, Kaiser 66 (pen)
Manchester United’s youngsters started the European campaign with victory in a game that contained three penalties, a red card and a real glut of goals in the second half.
It took only five minutes for the Reds to open our UEFA Youth League account for the season as Joshua Bohui’s run created an opening for Aidan Barlow. Although it initially looked like Jozef Pukaj had made the save, the ball looped up in the air and over the line before he could keep it out at the second attempt.
Basel replied in kind with Martin Liechti releasing Afimico Pululu into acres of space and the French forward supplied an impudent lofted finish over Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui as the Belgian keeper advanced from his goal.
Both teams had chances in the remainder of the first half as Angel Gomes had a free-kick deflect off target via Alessandro Stabile before Pululu dragged wide, when shrugging off Indy Boonen, and Daniele Vesco sent a header over the bar.
As the heavens opened in the second period, it also started to rain goals with the fans at Leigh Sports Village enjoying the entertainment. Boonen smuggled in an inviting free-kick by Barlow to get the ball rolling again and United started to turn on the style. Barlow was hugely unlucky with a sweeping drive that cannoned off the upright, from a Gomes pass, and Ethan Hamilton played a one-two with Gomes only to shoot wide.
When Boonen was tripped by Yves Jankowski, Gomes’s penalty sent Pukaj the wrong way to open up a two-goal advantage. It lasted only two minutes however, as Ylber Lokaj rose to power in a header from a corner to quickly reduce the deficit.
The Reds scored another penalty, this time through Bohui, who smashed it home, when Gomes was clumsily up-ended inside the area by Lokaj, only four minutes after the defender had nodded his side back into the game.
To their credit, the visitors continued to make a fight of it and, after Liechti’s free-kick was pushed away by Moutha-Sebtaoui, a soft penalty was awarded when it was unclear whether Bohui or substitute James Garner had even committed the offence. Kaiser drilled in the third successful spot-kick of the match, low and hard past Moutha-Sebtaoui.
Barlow hammered a free-kick wide as the goals, and chances dried up, and United’s hopes of securing three points were boosted when Kaiser was sent off for a second yellow card, a crude knee into the back of Bohui.
Vesco was fortunate to escape a red card of his own for kicking Gomes when already on a booking but Nicky Butt’s men held out comfortably to get Group A off to a good start with a deserved success. Benfica beat CSKA Moscow 5-1 in the other tie in the pool.
United: Moutha-Sebtaoui; Laird, Warren, O’Connor, Tanner (Kenyon 57) ; Sang (Garner 63), Hamilton; Boonen, Gomes (Burkart 92), Barlow; Bohui. Subs not used: Fojticek, Dunne, B. Williams, Baars.