By Scott Taylor
Yan Dhanda scored a brace as Liverpool U18s made it two wins from two games with a 2-1 victory at arch-rivals Manchester United in the Premier League. The striker, 17, who suffered a long-term injury at the end of last season, put Neil Critchley’s side ahead in the 20th minute before doubling his side’s lead in similar fashion ten minutes later. Indy Boonen reduced the deficit for the hosts, but Liverpool held on to maintain their 100% record at the start of the 2016/17 season.
Manchester United started the brighter of the two sides, with Polish goalkeeper Kamil Grabara having to be at full stretch to deny Tahith Chong on his Premier League debut.
Toni Gomes responded almost immediately with an spectacular overhead kick, but Ilias Moutha-Sebtaoui produced an even better stop to keep the scores level.
However, the United goalkeeper could do nothing about Dhanda’s opener shortly after. Full-back Harvey Whyte played it inside to Bobby Adekanye and the lively winger picked out Dhanda.
The forward then wrong-footed a United defender before firing his 20-yard effort into the bottom right corner to give Critchley’s side the lead.
Dhanda scored his and Liverpool’s second with another low drive into the bottom corner. Herbie Kane’s through ball found Adekanye, but the former Barcelona starlet’s first touch was too heavy.
Luckily for Liverpool, Dhanda intercepted the ball of his team-mate and doubled his sides lead with a strike from just outside the six-yard area.
The young Reds carried on their momentum into the second half when Gomes, who netted more than 15 goals last season, fired just over as he looked to open his account this season.
Despite this, United pulled a goal back when first-half substitute Boonen rounded off a good individual goal with a low effort which flew past Grabara.
Boonen, who netted eight goals from 12 starts last season, could have grabbed a dramatic equaliser in the closing stages but his shot was heroically blocked by Michel Parker with Grabara stranded.
United went in search for their first points of the season with Andre Gomes, Boonen and Chong all having efforts as Critchley brought on Rafael Camacho in place of Toni Gomes.
Liverpool then held on to secure all three points to move to the top of the North Division, and are the only team to have won both of their opening games.
The Reds will look to maintain that 100% record, but face a stern test in the form of third-placed Manchester City, who have been widely tipped as favourites for the Premier League title.
Liverpool U18s: Grabara; Whyte, Masterson (c), Parker, Lewis; Coyle, Kane (Hunter 61’), Adekanye, Millar, Dhanda; Gomes (Camacho 64’).
Man United U18s: Moutha-Sebtaoui; Tanner, Dunne, Hamilton (Bohui 70’), Warren; Dearnley (Boonen 17’), Sang; Whelan, Chong, Buffonge (Burkart 64’); Gomes.