Manchester City’s Elite Development Squad (EDS) remain unbeaten in the UEFA Youth League after taking a point from a hard-fought encounter with Club Brugge.
Joshua Wilson-Esbrand’s deflected effort in the 78th minute rescued a draw for Brian Barry-Murphy’s youngsters after Kyriani Sabbe had given the hosts the lead on the stroke of half-time with an unstoppable 20-yard drive.
The equaliser brought relief to City, who were frustrated for long periods against the stubborn Belgian outfit, who were backed by a vociferous home crowd.
Brugge deservedly led through Sabbe’s opener after City missed two opportunities to clear a left wing cross.
It was just reward for the home side, who had created numerous chances during an opening 45-minutes which they dominated thanks to the impressive trio of Romeo Vermant, Antonio Nusa and Cisse Sandra.
Vermant was denied three times by Mikki Van Sas, who was at full stretch to claw away the striker’s curling effort as he capitalised on Rico Lewis’ misplaced pass, whilst Luke Mbete was also indebted to the goalkeeper, who saved well from Nusa after the centre-back conceded possession his own half.
At the other end, chances were at a premium, though City spurned two golden opportunities.
Luca Barrington was caught unaware by Sabbe’s failure to clear Sam Edozie’s low cross and could only fire straight at Jelle Van Neck in the Brugge goal from six-yards, whilst the goalkeeper also did well to keep out Oscar Bobb’s precise effort following some intricate build up play between the striker and Edozie.
City had far more control after the break, when Brugge were restricted to two Vermant efforts, one of which was saved by Van Sas and the other which was drilled into the side netting.
Jelle Van Neck proved to be the busier of the two goalkeepers and he spared the blushes of Hautekiet when he raced back to clear the ball off the line following a misplaced back pass.
The Brugge goalkeeper was at full stretch to keep out Kwaku Oduroh’s angled 20-yard drive and frustrations were beginning to mount in a physical encounter as the well-drilled host made life difficult for City in attack.
A dancing run from Sam Edozie, who beat three defenders before Van Neck came out to narrow the angle and block his resulting shot, was a sign of City’s growing superiority and it was rewarded 12 minutes from time, when Wilson-Esbrand weaved across the area before checking inside and releasing a shot, with the deflection wrong footing the Brugge goalkeeper.
City pushed for a winner in the final 10 minutes, but the well-drilled home side held firm to ensure the score line reflected the even contest.
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