Manchester United continued their strong run in the 2015-16 Under-21 Premier League campaign on Monday, beating Reading 1-0 thanks to an own goal from the visitors.
James Weir fired a shot off the post in the second half, and in the confusion that followed, the ball came off a Reading leg before finding the net.
Manchester City lost 1-0 at Leicester City, allowing Everton to pass them in the Group 1 standings with a 3-1 defeat of Southampton. Arsenal's match against Swansea City was postponed, as the Gunners' under-18 squad took on Coventry City in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup.
Here's a look at Monday's results:
|Premier League U21 Results|
|Leicester City||1-0||Manchester City|
|Source: BBC Sport|
The latest Under-21 Premier League standings:
|EPL U21 Standings|
|1.||Manchester United U21||14||11||1||2||34:11||34|
|4.||Manchester City U21||14||6||3||5||25:19||21|
|3.||Aston Villa U21||16||8||4||4||19:20||28|
|4.||West Brom U21||16||6||8||2||19:13||26|
|5.||Stoke City U21||17||8||1||8||19:19||25|
|6.||West Ham U21||17||7||3||7||28:28||24|
|10.||Newcastle Utd U21||16||4||5||7||23:28||17|
|Source: BBC Sport|
Reading didn't make life easy on the Red Devils, but the Group 1 leaders pulled through in the second half of Monday's match to keep their lead at the top of the standings alive.
United made the bold decision to shift to a new formation, emulating the senior side with a three-man back line. For a team that has looked sensational in the attacking third of late, it was a risky move but one that could help a handful of prospects prepare for a step up to the first team soon.
Unfortunately, a change in formation will always have repercussions, and Monday's outing was no different. The Red Devils looked disjointed and uninspired during the first half, a shadow of the team that appears headed for the Group 1 title. The Manchester Evening News' Samuel Luckhurst was not impressed:
With Adnan Januzaj not playing on the right wing, Sadiq El Fitouri received the chance to impress, and the 21-year-old failed to provide the spark his Belgian predecessor did in the last few weeks.
With little movement out wide, United failed to create much, and the first real chance of the match fell to Reading's Jack Stacey, who fired wide. Matty Willock provided most of the danger for United, testing Reading stopper Stuart Moore with a hard shot.
Ro-Shaun Williams nearly handed the visitors the lead on a platter, playing an awful pass that allowed Reading to break before Joe Riley inexplicably missed United's best chance of the half, blasting the ball over the cross bar from close range.
At half-time, the Manchester Evening News' Twitter account designated for United couldn't help but take a shot at Louis van Gaal, the man in charge of the senior team:
United attacked with more verve in the second half, and Willock came close to opening the score, drawing a fine save from Moore. Willock's team-mate Weir eventually broke the deadlock, with the ball crossing the line after his initial shot hit the post.
Per Base Soccer's Doron Salomon, the ball came off a defender, and officials later changed the goal to an own goal from the visitors:
The goal seemed to wake United up, and the hosts started showing exactly why they lead the Group 1 standings. Marcus Rashford and Weir both came close to scoring but failed to hit the target from promising positions.
Some late pressure from Reading led to nothing, as United's defenders put together a strong showing in the second half and Joel Pereira looked excellent in goal.
Joe Dodoo scored the only goal in Leicester City's 1-0 win over Manchester City, a big setback for the Citizens, whose title bid seems to be over at this point. Sunderland remain United's closest competition, and they beat Middlesbrough 3-2 on Monday.