MOTM: Valencia, Matic and Mkhitaryan earn the plaudits in Sampdoria victory

Manchester United beat Sampdoria 2-1 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday evening. Jose Mourinho gave much of his squad a run out as he looking to assemble a side to take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia on Tuesday evening. Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed home the first goal from a Matteo Darmian assist nine minutes into the match which earlier could have gifted the Italian side a goal after Daley Blind’s back pass, which was saved by David De Gea, giving an indirect free-kick to Sampdoria, with United averting danger and breaking into attack, which created the goal through Antonio Valencia’s brilliance. The Italian side equalised just after the hour with Juan Mata, assisted by Anthony Martial, finding the winner nine minutes from time to earn the victory for United. Here are my Man of the Match contenders for the victory over Sampdoria.

Antonio Valencia

The Ecuadorian right-back, who was playing as a wing back for much of the match, turned back the time and showed his attacking flair, which is why Jose Mourinho has ensured the player will remain at the club for much longer. Valencia has a great season under Louis van Gaal and an even better season under Mourinho in his debut campaign and this season could be his best yet. Valencia played defence into attack after Blind’s error, getting forward with a burst of speed, crossing the ball to Darmian on the other flank, who then set up Mkhitaryan to score United first goal of the match. Valencia played well throughout the match, which was great to see. He will be one of the names on the team sheet in Skopje next week – Mourinho will have a headache to fill in the rest of his squad with many showing their abilities against the Italian side in Dublin.

Nemanja Matic

It was the new Serbian midfielder’s debut for United in Dublin and despite only playing 45 minutes, he showed exactly why Mourinho wanted him. Michael Carrick was the clubs only defensive midfielder until Matic’s arrival from Chelsea at the start of the week. Matic looked fit, considering he had not played a match this pre-season but had trained on his own at Chelsea’s training ground, seemingly getting himself ready for his move to United so he can fit right into the team. 90 minutes against a team like Real Madrid will test Matic for the new season, exactly what Mourinho will be looking for from his £40 million signing. United seem to be ready for the new season, especially after playing seven pre-season matches, an eighth on the way in Macedonia before United contend with West Ham United at Old Trafford in their Premier League opener on Sunday week.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Armenian is really looking to prove himself after the first part of his debut season was not the best after his £26 million arrival from Borussia Dortmund last summer. Mkhitaryan took the time out to get up to speed, which he did when given the chance again. Scoring six goals in the UEFA Europa League, including the second goal in the final will have been a big boost for him but during pre-season, he has been the provider of a goal or two, also assisting. His header, assisted by Matteo Darmian was a good bit of play from Mkhitaryan, who seems to now understand what he is expected to do during his Manchester United career. The Premier League, providing his form continues, could well see the arrival of the Armenian this season, who is looking brilliant on and off the ball and predatory in the goal scoring zones on the pitch.


Manchester United look to be in much better shape this summer with Jose Mourinho making three new additions with Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku, and Nemanja Matic to reinforce his side. There could be departures this summer, both permanent and on a loan basis, which will be good for players. Mourinho seems to have his side ready for their first test of the new season, Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup with the Europa League holders pitted against the La Liga and Champions League holders for the bragging rights of Europe. United last won that cup in 1991, also playing in it in 1999 and 2008, losing both times. Mourinho will be looking to get another victory over Real Madrid this summer, winning on penalties in the International Champions Cup match, the fourth match of the clubs pre-season tour of the United States of America. Sampdoria gave United a good game, gave them something to work for; the win and also played a part in the manager readying his squad for the new season.

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