Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s much-anticipated debut didn’t disappoint, but it was a tale of two halves as United turned around a 2-1 halftime deficit with four second-half goals to win 5-2 at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden.
With Manchester United’s starting lineup containing at least seven or eight players whom one would assume would be starting come next Sunday at Wembley, excitement was high as United kicked off in Sweden against Galatasaray. The name on everyone’s lips at kickoff was Zlatan Ibrahimovic and four minutes in he showed exactly why. Antonio Valencia’s run and cross found Ibrahimovic in the middle of the box for a flying scissor kick that found the back of the net. A fantastic way to start your United career no doubt.
United continued to control the match as a rusty Wayne Rooney saw much of the ball but seemed to only find Galatasaray players with his passes. With Anthony Martial on the left-wing and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the right, United finally have the quality and speed needed to make the width of the pitch work in their favour. These two worked tirelessly as United’s preferred front four looked to gel together on the pitch.
With much of the focus at the front, it was United’s backline that still has many questions to answer. With Ibrahimovic giving up a free kick halfway in his own half, Galatasaray made United pay, like last season, from a set piece in the 22nd minute. The free kick came in from Wesley Sneijder and Sinan Gumus was there to head the ball past David De Gea to draw things level.
Galatasaray was now in full control and pressed United’s midfield and backline for more goals. Morgan Schneiderlin looked at home in front of the back line, tackling and cleaning up balls and turning defense into attack as he did so well at Southampton. But it was United’s defense, again, which would be answer less when presented with questions as Bruma played a one-two and slotted the ball past De Gea for Galatasaray’s second goal in the 40th minute and a 2-1 lead.
The backline again giving up goals and a sluggish Rooney were the talking points as the teams headed down the tunnel at halftime.
Jose Mourinho made five changes at the break. Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, and Marcus Rashford came on for Ander Herrera, Schneiderlin, Mkhitaryan, Martial, and Ibrahimovic. United came out of the break the livelier team with Rooney looking refreshed and like the real Rooney. He found Young alone out on the right early, but Young’s cross only found the arms of the goalkeeper.
United’s attack came in waves and it was the Red’s captain who would find the net twice with Rashford at the center of everything happening. Valencia’s one-two with Rashford saw the Ecuadorian cross for Rooney to poach into the net to draw things level at 2-2. And it was Rashford again, this time by himself, earning a penalty as the keeper was forced to trip the young striker and Rooney stepped up to find the net for his second goal and United’s third.
United didn’t back down and continued to flow forward in attack with Valencia rolling the years back on the right-hand side. After some good work through the middle from Rooney, Valencia crossed to the back post for the oncoming Fellaini to loop his header over Muslera and into the back of the Galatasaray net for United’s fourth goal.
With his squad winning 4-2, Mourinho made a host of subs again with De Gea, Eric Bailly, Valencia, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw and Rooney all leaving the action, and Sergio Romero, Phil Jones, Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo come into the fray. Rashford continued to show why he’s the hottest youngster in Europe and Memphis showed flashes of footballer that came from PSV as United played beautiful football. It was Juan Mata who added his name to the scoresheet next after some slick movement outside the box. Mata found Carrick on the right and he returned the ball into the box for Mata to slide past Muslera to make the score 5 -2.
The matched finished without any more flare, but there was more attacking intent and balls played into space than was done for many matches over the past few seasons, and it was exciting to watch.
Goals: Zlatan Ibrahimovic 4′, Wayne Rooney 55′, 58′ penalty, Marouane Fellaini 62′, Juan Mata 75′
Assists: Antonio Valencia 4′, 55′, 62′, Michael Carrick 75′
Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 67′); Valencia (Darmian 67′), Bailly (Jones 67′), Blind (Rojo 67′), Shaw (Memphis 67′); Schneiderlin (Carrick 46′), Herrera (Fellaini 46′); Mkhitaryan (Young 46′), Rooney (Mata 67′), Martial (Lingard 46′); Ibrahimovic (Rashford 46′)
Substitutes Not Used: Johnstone
Bookings: Wayne Rooney 51′