Football: Manchester United 1 - 1 Rochdale (5 - 3 on penalties)
Date published: 26 September 2019
Sixteen-year-old Luke Matheson had a night to remember as he scored his first career goal when he equalised for Rochdale against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round of the EFL Cup but the fairytale couldn’t be completed as Dale went out on penalties.
The full-back fired in a right footed shot to spark scenes of sheer jubilation between players and fans alike as Dale held the five-times winners of the competition to a 1-1 draw.
With Eoghan O’Connell and Rekeil Pyke injured, Brian Barry-Murphy gave starts to Jimmy Keohane and Aaron Morley. Youngster Luke Matheson kept his place at right back whilst 15-year old Peter Thomas took his place on the substitutes bench.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made nine changes from the side that lost to West Ham at the weekend. 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe, who went to school at St Cuthbert's in Rochdale, was handed the captain's armband against his hometown club whilst World Cup winner Paul Pogba returned from injury to start the game.
All-in-all, the Manchester United side had eight full internationals in their starting line-up whilst the matchday squad cost in the region of £300 million pound to assemble.
The millionaires of Old Trafford made most of the running in the first half, but they came up against a very resilient Rochdale defence who threw everything at the home side. Robert Sanchez punched clear a Tahith Chong cross with Andreas Pereira fizzing a shot back in which was held by Sanchez.
Brian Barry-Murphy’s side started to feel their way into the game midway through the first half and they got their first corner after 26 minutes but it almost spelt disaster for Dale. The ball was immediately cleared with a swift breakaway from United and when Pereira clipped the ball into the box; Marcos Rojo saw his header saved by Sanchez.
Once the world's most expensive player at £89 million pounds, Paul Pogba missed a guilt-edged chance with ten minutes remaining of the first period. Mason Greenwood’s perfectly clipped cross was headed over by an unmarked Pogba in front of goal who should have done better.
England International Jesse Lingard sprung the Dale offside trap as he raced towards goal before playing in Greenwood; the 17-year-old unable to beat the Rochdale goalkeeper from close range.
Lingard almost edged his side in front as the first half clock ticked down when he powered a header narrowly over the bar.
Rochdale came into the game more in the second half and so nearly took the lead just seven minutes after the re-start through Callum Camps. Ollie Rathbone, who signed for Rochdale from Manchester United, burst into the area and when he picked out Camps on the edge of the six yard box, the 23 year old saw his shot cleared off the line by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Moments later Camps fired a rising shot just over the crossbar as the visitors started to knock on the door.
United took the lead with a little over twenty minutes remaining. A well worked move across the edge of the Rochdale penalty area saw Greenwood inside the area drop his shoulder before dispatching past Sanchez to ease the nerves of the 50,000 home fans inside Old Trafford.
The lead would only last eight minutes as young Luke Matheson would take centre stage. Rathbone’s tenacity to get into the area to the left of the goal paid off as he lifted the ball back into the danger area and the schoolboy beat his marker to the ball to fire a shot into the ground that bounced into the roof of the net.
The scenes were unbelievable as the Rochdale players celebrated like never before in front of the thousands of travelling fans.
The last twelve minutes plus six added minutes belonged to United as they pushed for a winner. Greenwood saw a snap shot flash wide whilst Wan-Bissaka also missed the target when well placed.
Andreas Pereira had the final chance of the game; Sanchez beating away his driven shot meaning the tie would be decided by penalty kicks. Jimmy Keohane took the second spot kick for Rochdale and saw his low effort well-saved by Argentinian goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
With United scoring all five of their penalties, it was they who progressed to a fourth round tie at Chelsea next month.
Rochdale: Sanchez, Matheson, Keohane, McNulty, Norrington-Davies, MJ Williams, Morley, Rathbone (Andrew 81), Dooley (Wilbraham 74), Camps, Henderson © (Ryan 89)
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, Tavares, Bradley, Thomas
Man Utd: Romero, Periera, Tuanzebe ©, Jones (Williams 46), Wan-Bissaka, Pogba, Fred, Chong (James 60), Rojo, Lingard (Mata 85), Greenwood
Substitutes: (not used) Grant, Lindelof, McTominay, Garner
Referee: Mr J Brooks
Assistants: Mr N Greenhalgh & Mr P Dermott
Fourth Official: Mr A Backhouse
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