Manchester United and Liverpool shared the spoils at Academy level on Saturday, as the passionate rivalry between the clubs produced a lively 1-1 draw.

United had the last laugh with a late goal in this league game, as was the case when the sides met on Merseyside recently in the Premier League Cup. On that occasion, Mason Greenwood’s extra-time free-kick won the match 3-2 for Neil Ryan’s team; this time, Anthony Elanga claimed an 88th-minute equaliser at the Aon Training Complex.

Liverpool had led from the 30th minute following Di’Shon Bernard’s own goal and both teams were reduced to ten men before Elanga stepped in.

 
Mason Greenwood keeps his eye on the ball as he surges forward
Both United and Liverpool have suffered their own tragedies in the past and as the young players of both sides lined up at the centre circle, it was also an opportune moment to reflect on the terrible news from Brazil where ten young players in Flamengo’s academy, aged between 14 and 16, perished in a dormitory fire at the club’s training facility in Rio de Janeiro.

A good number of devotees were present, despite the bitterly cold wind that was sweeping across the pitch, as the game started with United in the usual home colours whilst Liverpool were kitted out in all-purple.

With a couple of away wins over the arch rivals under their belts, Neil Ryan’s United players were targeting a hat-trick of victories against Liverpool but from the onset it was clear that it wasn’t going to be easy.

The opening moments provided little or no evidence of the likely outcome with both teams failing to produce many genuine chances in front of goal. Then, on the half-hour, the purple-clad visitors struck the first blow thanks to full-back Jack Walls, whose shot took a deflection off Bernard before it entered James Thompson’s net.

 
D’Mani Mellor takes on the Liverpool defence

United needed a reply and very nearly found one in the time that remained of the first half. Mason Greenwood was out of luck on a couple of occasions and Aliou Traore also did his best to test Ben Williams in the Liverpool goal.

Williams was a thorn in the hosts’ side shortly after the break when he pulled off two remarkable saves from attempts by his namesake, United skipper Brandon Williams, and defender Teden Mengi, but hopes of a home-team equaliser were raised in the 63rd minute when Liverpool defender Niall Brockwell was sent off after felling D’Mani Mellor.

Liverpool defender Niall Brockwell is sent off.

Not surprisingly, Ryan’s Reds started to command possession and Greenwood, Mellor and James Garner all put the Liverpool goal under threat, albeit without success. With four minutes of normal time left, Bernard was red carded to put the teams’ personnel back on a level footing and it appeared that United’s chances of getting some reward from the game had gone.

However, help was at hand and two minutes from the end Elanga weaved his way into the Liverpool area before firing past Williams.

MATCH DETAILS

United: Thompson; Galbraith, Mengi, Bernard, Williams B.; Garner, Levitt (McCann 89), Traore; Ramazani (Mellor 56), Greenwood, Elanga.

Substitutes not used: Carney, Devine, McGhee.

Scorers: Liverpool – Bernard own goal 30 | United – Elanga 88.

Sent off: 
Liverpool – Brockwell | United – Bernard.

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