Henrikh Mkhitaryan grabbed his first goal for United, but Borussia Dortmund’s match sharpness showed through as two goals in each half saw the German team run out winners in the 37-degree heat in Shanghai, 4-1.
With Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney, and David DeGea not featuring in today’s match, Jose Mourinho went with a different starting XI than might have been expected. Searching for proper formations, fitness, and an overall feel for the players, Mourinho started with Memphis Depay up front, Juan Mata behind him and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard on either side of the Spanish attacker. Daley Blind was moved into a defensive midfield position behind Ander Herrera with Sam Johnstone in goal being protected by Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, and the returning Luke Shaw.
Dortmund’s preseason has already been well under way and their fitness showed from the start. Pressing United in their own half from the opening whistle, they pushed for the opening goal. This approach left United to sit back and try to hit Dortmund on the counter attack. The plan worked as the ball came to Memphis on two different occasions but he could not reach the ball in time. Anytime the ball was in the United half, Dortmund would push 9 men forward in search of breaking down United’s compact defense.
The opening goal came from a set-piece. Pierre Aubumayeng’s free kick was parried by Johnstone, when it seemed easier to catch or push behind, into the path of Dembele who could only find the keeper with his follow-up. Eventually, it was Castro who clipped the ball past Johnstone into the roof of the net for the opening goal. United had a great chance to equalize shortly after as Lingard found himself clear on goal, but his rushed shot found the keepers grateful arms.
Dortmund doubled their advantage after the mandatory three-minute water break when Aubumayang’s shot found the arm of Valencia in the box and a penalty was given. Aubumayeng stepped up and calmly sent the Johnstone the wrong way to give Dortmund a 2-0 lead. United pressed but was unable to find the space needed as Dortmund’s early preseason fitness shown through.
The second half saw Mourinho bring off Johnstone, Jones, Lingard, and Memphis and replace them with Romero, Rojo, Ashley Young and Marcus Rashford – the latter to huge applause from the Shanghai crowd. Dortmund made one change at the half and continued where they left off, showing their advanced fitness. The third goal came through a fantastic individual effort from Dortmund’s new signing, Moussa Dembele, as he stabbed past a rooted Rojo at the edge of the area and fired a fantastic right-footed finish past Romero.
Mkhitaryan had a fantastic chance to grab United’s first goal directly after, but like Lingard earlier, he only found the grateful arms of the keeper. United would find their opening goal soon after as Mata drew the keeper out and then slid the ball to a wide open Mkhitaryan for an open net tap-in. The goal resembling the two’s link up goal from the last match at Wigan.
Dortmund made seven changes at once and United followed with two more as Paddy McNair and Adnan Januzaj came on for Blind and Mkhitaryan. Although the competition encourages mass substitutions to allow the game to pick back up once it’s done, the game died away. Luke Shaw was a bright spot, but his time out last season showed as he builds back his fitness and first touch.
With 15 minutes left, Mourinho brought Andreas Pereira on in place of Valencia to give the impressive Brazilian some more time in the midfield. The match never returned to what it was, but such is the nature of preseason friendlies. A yellow card was shown to Bailly late on for dissent and Shaw for a foul, while Januzaj showed flashes of what United fans remember him to be. Dortmund rounded out a great performance when Castro fired an unstoppable shot from outside the box to beat a diving Romero for Dortmund’s fourth goal.
The final whistle went without any more happenings. The pitch was terribly poor and the heat and humidity were huge factors. Manchester United looked like a team in their second preseason match. Dortmund looked ever the part of a team who was in their fifth preseason match and deserved to win. Jose Mourinho won’t be happy with the result but won’t be all too bothered with it. Preseason is about fitness and United’s new manager has very specific plans to get his side ready for Leicester City and the Community Shield just over two weeks from now.
Goals: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 59′
Assists: Juan Mata 59′
Manchester United: Johnstone (Romero 46′); Valencia (Pereira 75′), Bailly, Jones (Rojo 46′), Shaw; Herrera, Blind (McNair 66′); Mkhitaryan (Januzaj 66′), Mata, Lingard (Young 46′); Memphis (Rashford 46′)
Substitutes Not Used: Tuanzebe; Keane