Ratings: Darmian and Mkhitaryan impress as Manchester United win final pre-season match in Dublin

Manchester United ended pre-season with a 2-1 win over Sampdoria under the floodlights of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. United’s performance seemed to sample the 3-5-2 system that Jose Mourinho could deploy to nullify Real Madrid’s 4-1-2-1-2 in the Super Cup next week, and the system worked very well in the first half, as Andreas Pereira, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Matteo Darmian, and Antonio Valencia tore Sampdoria’s defence apart.

The match fully started when an odd back-pass from Daley Blind resulted in an indirect free kick from about six yards for the opposition, but United’s defence were quick off the mark and Mkhitaryan, Valencia, and Darmian powered a counter that allowed United to score their first of the match. Later in the second half, an individual error for Chris Smalling while Sampdoria were on the counter caused United to concede to level the scores, but heroism would come to the fore.

Anthony Martial received the ball in open space before committing his fullback and sliding the ball past two defenders for Juan Mata, who stroked the ball home from the edge of the box to win United’s final pre-season match. However, this match will be remembered for the debut of Nemanja Matic, who impressed at the heart of Manchester United’s midfield and looked incredibly suited to his role already.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Not sure he dealt as well as he could have with Daley Blind’s wayward back-pass, but he was helpless for the goal and didn’t have much else to do.


2 Victor Lindelof

Composure, ball-playing excellence and overall good defending highlighted a steady performance from Lindelof. Subtract his penalty concession against Real Madrid and he looks a decent defender.


12 Chris Smalling

Normal business for Smalling, who looked improved as usual as the middle of three central defenders, but he struggled with a counter from Sampdoria and was the sole cause for their goal after a poor sliding clearance.


17 Daley Blind

He loses half a point for the poor back-pass, but don’t be worried about Blind. Like Lindelof, he is positioning himself well to win the ball and start attacks, particularly at centre-back.


25 Antonio Valencia

Excellent in the first half, moving up and down the wing and performing all duties required of a wingback. Should’ve had an assist but Mkhitaryan’s effort from his cross was well saved.


31 Nemanja Matic

Looked good enough for the opening twenty minutes before really stepping up and earning dominance of the match, exactly the type of player United needed in defensive midfield. Hopefully the type of authoritative performance we can expect during the season, looked very fit for his first match too.


Andreas Pereira

Gave the ball away a few times but ultimately performed very well again, looks creative in midfield and can do almost anything with the ball at his feet.


6 Paul Pogba

Impersonating Paul Scholes at the heart of midfield, Pogba has a different, physical edge to his game to complement his silky passing movements. At just 24, that could be a daunting proposition for the opposition.


36 Matteo Darmian

His assist was excellent for the goal, he ran miles again, and he ended pre-season with a bang from left-wingback.


22 Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Excellent transition to turn defence in attack and supply Darmian before making a quick run to get onto his cross and score. Seems to be poor, get involved in a goal, and improve drastically, but today he was good from the offset. Three goals and four assists in seven pre-season matches isn’t bad.


9 Romelu Lukaku

Really impressed with his build-up play, Sampdoria compressed his space very well and didn’t give him the chance to score, but this didn’t impact his build-up play at all.



21 Ander Herrera

Much like Matic, he grew into the game, metronomic passing movements and unlucky on two occasions, the first when he had a difficult angle after Martial lobbed the ball over the keeper for him, and the second with a volley from Rashford’s corner that also impersonated Scholes.


8 Juan Mata

He only needed a little bit of time to score. Limited pre-season appearances due to injury, but he looked immense in all.


16 Michael Carrick

Came on in midfield in the second half and carried off where Matic left him. Didn’t have the same defensive presence, but he will be refreshed whenever he plays due to the presence of a dominant starter in front of him.


27 Marouane Fellaini

Much better as the advanced midfielder in a trio, he could be very effective for United this season in this position.


11 Anthony Martial

Working hard defensively before breaking forward into space, Martial performed very well and looks ready to swing the ball in with either foot as well. Huge season ahead for the Frenchman, who, due to Mourinho’s tactics, likely won’t start against Real Madrid but should be straight back in afterward.


19 Marcus Rashford

Tried his best to get involved and take on defenders, but he didn’t have the strength and power that Romelu Lukaku showed in the first half. Will be very good coming off the bench and rotating with the Belgian, though, and is exponentially better as a striker than he is on the wing.


40 Joel Castro Pereira

Excellent and confident intervention at 90 minutes to keep the match level in a risky 50/50 situation.


4 Phil Jones

Didn’t have time to influence the match, deserves to play in that Super Cup based on pre-season form but won’t because of this ridiculous suspension.


3 Eric Bailly

Same as Jones, deserves to play in the Super Cup final.


38 Axel Tuanzebe

Played left-back this time for fifteen minutes, and looked solid, but hopefully, he plays many more minutes this season.


Written by Aaron Moniz


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