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Report: Mkhitaryan and Mata help Manchester United sink Sampdoria in 2-1 victory

Manchester United beat Sampdoria 2-1 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday evening. It was Henrikh Mkhitaryan who scored the opening goal in the ninth minute, assisted by Matteo Darmian. The Italian side equalised in the 63rd minute of the match, getting themselves back into the game, but within twenty minutes, after many changes, Juan Mata scored the winner for United after a great assist by Anthony Martial, who seems to be nearing the blistering form he had shown in his debut season at the club. United manager Jose Mourinho will have a selection headache ahead of the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid on Tuesday evening.

Jose Mourinho made a few changes to his team for his last pre-season match of the summer. United started well but in the opening minutes Daley Blind played a back pass which caught David De Gea off guard and the Spanish goalkeeper had to make the dive to stop the own goal. The referee gave an indirect free-kick on the edge of the six-yard box with all United’s players on the line, blocking the attempt and immediately going on the attack through Antonio Valencia on the right flank, passing to Matteo Darmian who crossed into the box with Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading the ball into the back of the net. From end to end, opening the scoring for United.

United continued to get stuck into the opposition throughout the opening 20 minutes of the match with Valencia showing his class against Sampdoria. The Ecuadorian put the cross in for Mkhitaryan, who could not get his second goal of the match. United were dominating after the early scare, which was caused by Blind. In the 24th minute, Romelu Lukaku cut in from the right and fired his shot goal bound, which was just wide of the target. United were getting forward at each chance they had with Valencia, Mkhitaryan, and Lukaku trying their best. Even Nemanja Matic was looking like he had been part of this side for more than a few days.

In the 32nd minute of the match, Darmian broke forward on the left flank again, getting deep into Sampdoria’s half, crossing the ball into the box for the on rushing Lukaku, who could not find the target. Lukaku and Paul Pogba were doing well throughout the early stages of the match. United were unlucky to not have scored two or three goals more at this stage. Sampdoria had the chance to get themselves back into the match in the 42nd minute, the resulting shot on goal was just wide of the target. United seemed to drop off in the latter stages of the half, still on top heading into the break.

Lukaku broke forward with just under two minutes of the half remaining, getting beat by the defender to the ball and unable to put more pressure in the Serie A side. There was a minute of added time at the end of the first half with United aiming to make some space, break forward and score a second before the whistle blew, but it did not go as planned. Pogba had a chance just before the end of the half, hitting his shot over the crossbar, off target. United did well in the first half and lead the Italian side 1-0 with all to play for in the second half.

At the start of the second half, Mourinho made four changes with Ander Herrera replacing Pereira, Juan Mata replacing Mkhitaryan, Michael Carrick replacing Matic, and Marouane Fellaini replacing Pogba. Sampdoria tried to take control of the early stages of the half after the changes with United looking to continue their domination of the Italian side. Some good interplay from Herrera and Valencia could have created a chance for United, but after Herrera passed back into the box from a one-two with Valencia, no United players were in the box to take advantage, which could have been United’s second goal of the evening.

In the 60th minute, Mourinho made two further changes with Marcus Rashford replacing Lukaku and Anthony Martial replacing Blind. United then seemingly reverted to a back four formation with United getting on the attack straight away, to no avail despite looking bright to find a second goal just after the double substitution. In the 62nd minute, Herrera, who was offside, scored, seeing his effort disallowed because of the offside. It was a good bit of play from United though and a good finish for the Spanish midfielder. United were still in charge of the match and with Rashford and Martial both on the pitch, they could run them ragged.

Sampdoria equalised on the 63rd minute after United had their offside goal ruled out, running straight up the other end and finding a goal themselves. Rashford took on his man after the goal, getting to the edge of the box and crossing over to the other side of the pitch with Martial looking to break through. The Frenchman lofted a cross into Fellaini, who could not meet the ball with his head one-on-one with the keeper. Sampdoria then made some changes with United chasing the winning goal. Rashford won a free-kick after being fouled at the edge of the area on the run with Martial also making up ground on the Italians.

Mata took the free-kick with Herrera running across the ball, it then going through the wall and straight into the keepers hands. It was a good free-kick for United, not one to find the goal to put United into the lead through. In the 76th minute, Mourinho made four more changes with Joel Pereira replacing De Gea, Phil Jones replacing Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly replacing Chris Smalling, and Axel Tuanzebe replacing Darmian. After the changes United had a good chance on goal with Rashford using his pace. United had the chance to find the winner but the goalkeeper got hold of the ball with just over ten minutes remaining.

Martial used his pace and ability on the ball to break through on the left flank with Rashford screaming for the ball, the Frenchman’s pass broken down. Seconds later Martial did the same, passing to Mata, who put United ahead in the 81st minute of the match. United had two chances in a minute with Herrera shooting from outside the box, saved by the keeper with the rebound being shot by Rashford, not hitting the target. United could have had a third goal. Three minutes were added on at the end of the second half, United still dominating the Italian side.

Goals: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 9′, Juan Mata 81′

Assists: Matteo Darmian 9′, Anthony Martial 81′

Manchester United: De Gea (J. Pereira 77′); Lindelof (Jones 77′), Smalling (Bailly 77′), Blind (Martial 60′); Valencia, Matic (Carrick 46′), A. Pereira (Herrera 46′), Pogba (Fellaini 46′), Darmian (Tuanzebe 77′); Mkhitaryan (Mata 46′), Lukaku (Rashford 60′) 76′

Substitutes Not Used: Fosu-Mensah; McTominay

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