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2019/20 – Pre-Season Tour – Perth Glory – Optus Stadium, Perth, Australia

2018/19 – Pre-Season Friendly – Bayern Munich – Munich, Germany

Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Munich. United created very little and at times struggled to match the German side on the pitch. It was a second half header from Javi Martinez which beat David De Gea that ended United’s pre-season with the second defeat of the summer.

Jose Mourinho was boosted ahead of this game with the return of Marcus Rashford, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, and Romelu Lukaku. Rashford and Lindelof were fit to start the match with Jones on the bench. Lukaku, however, was left in Manchester, presumably to get himself fit to start, or play a part against Leicester City at Old Trafford on Friday.

The first chance of the game came through Bayern Munich with Arjen Robben flicking the ball to Joshua Kimmich on the overlap, his cross aiming to catch David De Gea out at the near post with the Spanish number one reading the game well, stopping the German side from taking an early lead. Bayern had another chance minutes later with Robben and Thiago Alcantara pressuring De Gea with the Spaniard palming the shot away.

In the 10th minute of the match, De Gea out a long-ball towards Rashford, which was won by Mats Hummels. Two minutes later, Fred was playing well in midfield, always looking for the ball and putting a lot of energy into his performance. He could be the player to provide service in the midfield this season, once he has settled in, which does not seem to be that far ahead into the future.

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Matteo Darmian, who continues to be linked with a move away from United this summer, found Rashford on the right, trying to get the ball around Hummels, who was going to be the main problem in this Bayern defence, nearly getting the ball through but the German international made a lunging tackle, clearing his line. Bayern had an opportunity moments later through Serge Gnabry, De Gea making the save.

United do not seem to be creating much in the forward areas. Lindelof, however, was being kept busy, which is what we all want to see as he will show his abilities, like he did playing for Sweden during the FIFA World Cup. In the 25th minute, Robben out a dangerous ball into Thomas Muller but De Gea was out of his area to stake his claim to the ball, putting a direct ball for Rashford to get in behind but Manuel Never got the ball.

Bayern had another chance to create in the 28th minute after the ball was played in from the right from Muller. However, Robben could not quite get there. There was a water break in the game around the 30 minute mark. During that time, Mourinho was speaking to his players to get the game to change as they had not been playing well until this stage of the game.

After the restart, United continued to sit deep and welcome the pressure. Alexis Sanchez was playing deep on the left and Rashford was not getting much involvement in the game, possibly because this was his first match back after his participation in the World Cup. Robben created a chance in the 36th minute, putting the ball into the box but Eric Bailly made the clearance into Javi Martinez, missed the target with his shot.

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In the 39th minute, United were starting to play a bit better with Luke Shaw driving infield with Mata running into space. Shaw passed the ball into Mata but David Alaba ushered him out-of-the-way. Two minutes later, Sanchez tried to get something started on the left but Kimmich blocked his path. Bayern had a chance in the 43rd minute through Franck Ribery, who tried to shoot from 15-yards, failing to create danger.

The first half ended 0-0 with United on the receiving end of the majority of the pressure in the game, having 34% possession and not even having a shot on goal. I am sure those on Twitter who are used to moaning will be doing just that, unable to differentiate between a pre-season match and a competitive fixture. The half-time team talk could inspire this United side to grab something from this game.

At the start of the second half, Bayern made three changes with Muller, Hummels, and Ribery being replaced by Robert Lewandowski, Jerome Boateng, and Leon Goretzka. Bailly seemed to be carrying an injury early in the second half, being replaced by Chris Smalling in the 51st minute of the match. United had a chance through Shaw in the 52nd minute after a clever pass by Fred. Shaw could not gain control of the ball though.

In the 54th minute, Robben swung a corner in from the right, De Gea stayed on his line, Goretzka met the ball with a header, looping his effort over the crossbar. It should have been the opening goal of the game. Bayern made another change moments later with Juan Bernat replacing Alaba in the 56th minute. Bayern scored in the 59th minute through Martinez, heading past De Gea.

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After the goal, Bayern made two more changes with Thiago and Gnabry being replaced by Rafinha and Kingsley Coman. United had a shot on goal in the 62nd minute of the match with Fred trying his luck from 30-yards. However, his right-footed effort swerved well wide of the post. Mourinho readied some changes with Mata being replaced by Scott McTominay, Phil Jones replacing Darmian and Tim Fosu-Mensah replacing Rashford.

In the 69th minute, Boateng was booked for a challenge on McTominay after he changed his pace to get one over the German defender, who responded by chopping the Academy graduate down. There was another break in play in the 70th minute with the players taking on more fluids. Bayern made another change with Kimmich being replaced by Sebastian Rudy.

Bayern had another chance in the 74th minute fo the match after Lewandowski, who had been very quiet, came to life, turning Jones *surprise* but flashed his shot over the crossbar. After the chance, United continued to welcome Bayern in their area, with the pressure seemingly well matched with United dealing with the German side.

Mourinho made more changes with Demetri Mitchell replacing Shaw, Axel Tuanzebe replacing Lindelof, Lee Grant replacing De Gea and Tahith Chong replacing Fred in the 78th minute. James Garner replaced Herrera in the 81st minute with the Spanish midfielder seemingly carrying a knock. Koman had a chance to create, passing to Goretzka, who hit the side netting.

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Robben had another chance a few minutes later, charging down the right, opening up some space and flashing the ball across the face of the goal which Lewandowski could not find. In the 88th minute, Bayern scored through Robben, but the flag was raised late for offside, thwarting the celebrations of the Dutchman. A minute of stoppage time was played at the end of the match.

The match ended in defeat for United with a pretty lacklustre display but Mourinho’s side. However, looking at the positives, both Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were yet to return and player who are not he sidelines through injury will also boost things when they have recovered. United do need to sort something out before the closure of the transfer window though, or moving forward from last season will be very hard.

Manchester United: De Gea (Grant 78′); Darmian (Jones 65′), Lindelof (Tuanzebe 78′), Bailly (Smalling 51′), Shaw (Mitchell 78′); Herrera (Garner 81′), Pereira, Fred (Chong 78′); Mata (McTominay 65′), Rashford (Fosu-Mensah 65′), Sanchez

Substitutes Not Used: Greenwood

2018/19 – International Champions Cup – Real Madrid – Miami, FL

Manchester United beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Alexis Sanchez opened up the scoring, assisted by Matteo Darmian and Ander Herrera, assisted by Sanchez doubled the lead. Karim Benzema got a goal back at the end of the first half. Real Madrid asked plenty of questions of United’s defence, passing the test.

Jose Mourinho made a few changes from the defeat to Liverpool. David De Gea made his first appearance for the club this summer and Fred made his first start as a United player. Luke Shaw returned after being an unused substitute against Liverpool with Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez continuing as the experienced forwards. This was Real Madrid’s first pre-season match this summer.

As the match started, United’s formation had changed from what was expected. McTominay was slotted into the centre of defence with Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah alongside him. United created something through Sanchez in the third minute of the match. However, Jesus Vallejo was left behind by the Chilean in midfield and he hauled Sanchez to the ground, winning a free-kick for United.

Two minutes later, United had another chance after Matteo Darmian passed the ball across the pitch, finding Sanchez, who cut inside on his right, floating a great ball into Mata, who messed up his shot and hit the side netting. Real Madrid had an equally good opportunity to open the scoring in the eighth minute of the match through Karim Benzema. In the ninth minute, Fred won a free-kick in his own half of the pitch.

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Just inside the 11th minute of the game, after some good interplay between Sanchez and Mata, the Spaniard had another shot on goal, which was saved by Kiko Casilla. After the early stages of the game, which saw both teams creates chances and goalscoring opportunities, Madrid started to take control of the game in the 13th minute with long spells of possession. Mata won a free-kick in the 16th minute after being fouled.

Andreas Pereira pinged a log diagonal cross into Shaw on the left flank but the left-back was adjudged to be offside. Real Madrid started to aim to take control again, United took the lead in the 18th minute of the match through Sanchez, assisted by Darmian with a great cross from the right. It was a good show of attacking ability by United, taking their chance against Madrid, the third in the game so far, for United anyway.

In the 24th minute of the game, Real Madrid had their second chance with Gareth Bale in the box, after starting the attack, not getting on the end of the cross properly, putting the ball out for a United goal kick. United, at the other end of the pitch, had another chance to create something, Shaw on the ball and Sanchez shouting for the pass, but Shaw taking the shot, hitting his man and the ball going out or play.

United doubled their lead in the 27th minute of the match, going 2-0 up. Ander Herrera was the goalscorer after Mata broke forward, tried to play the ball into Sanchez, who headed it backward for Herrera to gather the ball and fire United with the advantage. The media won’t like this at all, but then again, they will find something else to keep their negativity running ahead of the Premier League starting next week. Bless them.

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Madrid had an opportunity to get themselves back into the game in the 29th minute but United gathered the ball in the box the thwarted the opportunity. Vinicius Jr looks like a good talent for Madrid, he was trying to get something from the game for his club on his debut. Just before the 31st minute of the game was over, a water break was called with both teams taking advantage of team talks from the respective managers.

After the water break, United were looking to continue where the game ended, heading into the final ten minutes of the half. Madrid regained possession and looked to get forward to find a goal to put them back into the game. Sanchez won another free-kick for United, inside his own half after a foul. United were playing short passes to advance. A poor pass by Bailly gave Madrid a throw in.

Real Madrid had another chance in the closing stages of the half but United thwarted the chance, breaking down possession inside the box. The UEFA Champions League holders then got in an advanced position again, seeking a goal, with Bailly putting himself in to block a chance, taking one for the team and giving Madrid a corner, which came to nothing.

United won a corner in the last minute of normal time in the first half, taking advantage of a sloppy back pass, putting a cross into the box and the Real Madrid defender putting the ball out of play. Herrera was in the box, aiming to get something from the corner, his shot on goal blocked with Real Madrid back out on the attack. Real Madrid got a goal back in stoppage time through Benzema. 2-1 at the break.

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Mourinho made no changes at the start of the second half, with Real Madrid making four. Pereira and Fred seemed to be playing well at the start of the second half, showing great composure and control under pressure from Madrid, getting United out of a situation that could have been troublesome. Real Madrid has a chance in the 51st minute after Fred lost possession, which came to nothing.

Ten minutes into the second half, United seemed to drop back, inviting pressure from Real Madrid. Mourinho has a lack of experienced options on the bench and it could be a sign of fatigue in the Miami heat. Real Madrid seemed Mohave taken control of the game by the 57th minute and Martin Odegaard had a sublime change to level the score, firing over the crossbar.

In the 61st minute, Madrid made two more changes, United still not making any. Sanchez won a free-kick for United in the 64th minute after a poor challenge with United dealing with a lot of pressure in their own half. Mourinho made a substitution in the 68th minute of the match with Axel Tuanzebe replacing Fred. McTominay moved forward back into the midfield.

With 20 minutes remaining, Sanchez released Shaw into space on the left but Shaw’s ball was poorly placed into the box and Mata, awaiting the pass in the box had little chance to receive it. Real Madrid has plenty of possession in United’s final third. Shaw nearly gave away a penalty, a free-kick being awarded at the edge of the box, on United’s left. Odegaard went for goal, De Gea punching the ball away.

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There was another water break with 15 minutes of the match remaining. Real Madrid made further changes, introducing Toni Kroos, Nacho, Isco and Marco Asensio. McTominay could not finish the game, seemingly after a knock Mourinho opting to replace him with Demetri Mitchell. Real Madrid had a chance in the 81st minute but the ball flashed across the face of the goal. Another second later was kept out by De Gea.

Mourinho brought on 17-year-old James Garner for Mata in the 82nd minute of the match. There was 64,141 inside the Hard Rock Stadium for this game. Not quote the levels of Old Trafford but not a bad crowd, considering the negativity surrounding the squad this summer. Perhaps most people ignore the media too? I guess that is probably the best way.

United seemed to be hanging on with five minutes remaining. Real Madrid were pressuring in the final third. Fosu-Mensah seemed able to keep closing down his opposition, playing a good defensive game against this Madrid side. Real Madrid won a free-kick after Pereira fouled his man, not that he was in agreement with the referee. Sanchez was still putting in the effort this late in the game. A true athlete.

Real Madrid won another free-kick as Isco went down on the right flank after a Darmian challenge. United defended well, giving away a corner in the last minute of the match. Kroos took the corner, which was not a great set-piece. Three minutes of stoppage time was added at the end of the match. Real Madrid were still asking questions of United’s defence.

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Madrid won another free-kick, this time further back after Herrera’s foul. Madrid won another corner with 80 second remaining, De Gea collecting the ball, seemingly taking his time to play it. Real Madrid had a shot in the last 15 seconds, De Gea collecting the ball. United ended their pre-season tour on a high beating Real Madrid.

The squad will fly back to Manchester through the night days ahead of their final pre-season match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Sunday evening. Mourinho will be relieved that his side ended with a victory in normal time. Perhaps in the coming days, some business will be conducted and United can continue their preparations for the new season.

Goals: Alexis Sanchez 18′, Ander Herrera 27′

Assists: Matteo Darmian 18′, Alexis Sanchez 27′

Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian, Bailly, Fosu-Mensah, Shaw; Fred (Tuanzebe 68′), A. Pereira, Herrera; Mata (Garner 82′), Sanchez, McTominay (Mitchell 79′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, J. Pereira; Williams; Hamilton, Gomes; Chong, Bohui, Greenwood

2018/19 – International Champions Cup – Liverpool – Ann Arbor, MI

Manchester United were beaten 4-1 by Liverpool in the International Champions Cup in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Liverpool won two penalties in the game, the first scored by Sadio Mane. Andreas Pereira scored the equaliser from an impressive free-kick before Xherdan Shaqiri putting Liverpool ahead in the second half. Another penalty, through Oluwaseyi Ojo, saw United 3-1 down with Shaqiri scoring a spectacular goal to win the game 4-1.

Jose Mourinho made a number of changes to the side which beat AC Milan on penalties with Luke Shaw missing from the starting XI, although he was on the bench. It was a weakened United team against a Liverpool side with a lot of Premier League experience. Mourinho opted for a five at the back formation. Chris Smalling was due to start the match but was replaced by Eric Bailly.

There was a bit of beef in the opening five minutes between Andreas Pereira and James Milner after the Liverpool midfielder made his second foul in the match, previously fouling Alexis Sanchez in the third minute of the match. Pereira stood firm and Scott McTominay got involved too. This may only be a friendly on paper, not in the flesh – neither should it be.

In the eighth minute of the match, Juan Mata was played through on goal, was flagged for offside but chipped the Liverpool goalkeeper anyway. Mohamed Salah, at the other end of the pitch came close to opening the scoring with a header but Lee Grant tipped the ball over the crossbar, giving Liverpool a corner. Liverpool nearly scored from the set-piece but the ball was cleared off the line by Bailly.

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Liverpool were the livelier side in the early stages of the match and with the experience involved in the match, it would be strange if they were not. They have a few good chances in quick succession with the clearance off the line by Bailly from a Virgil van Dijk header, then a Salah header which was stopped by Grant. United then took charge for a moment with Sanchez on the attack, unable to create anything for United.

Mata found the back of the net for the second time in this match, against ruled for offside, which was a close encounter. The tempo in the game was like that of a Premier League encounter between the two sides. Sanchez was seemingly more frustrated than he was against Milan a few days ago after Matteo Darmian’s final ball to the Chilean being very poor, ending up with the ball reaching the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Liverpool won a penalty after Salah was seemingly fouled by Demetri Mitchell in the area with the referee pointing to the spot. Salah went down very easily though. I hope he did not injury anything. We know he likes to be wrapped up in cotton wool. Sadio Mane took the penalty, to the right of Grant, who guessed the right area but the ball was tucked into the corner.

After Liverpool’s goal, there was a water break in the game. After the restart, United won a free-kick in the final third with Andreas Pereira taking the set-piece. The Belgian-born Brazilian hit a stunning kick towards goal, tucking it into the top corner with Liverpool’s young goalkeeper nowhere near making the save. United were back in the game, 1-1.

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Salah was getting the better of both Tim Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe on occasion but both United players were still up for the challenge. Bailly seemed to be the stalwart in defence, seemingly keeping Liverpool at bay as much as he could. Liverpool had another chance to fins another goal in the last three minutes of the half but the offside flag was raised.

Liverpool won a corner in the 44th minute of the match with Milner taking it. The ball met Van Dijk inside the box and his header went straight to Grant, who made the easy save to deny Liverpool from taking the lead for a second time. There was a minute of added time at the end of the first half of the match, nothing came of the added time and the half ended 1-1. All to play for in the second half.

At the start of the second half, Mourinho replaced Grant with Joel Pereira. Liverpool made four changes with both Salah and Mane not playing in the second half. Fabinho was the first player to be booked in the game for clipping the heels of Sanchez as United tried to counter through him – the Liverpool supporters will be saying ‘he took one for the team’, bless them.

The tempo in the game had started to slow around ten minutes into the second half and United were struggling to get Sanchez involved in the game. There was another break around the hour mark due to a pitch invader, who was seemingly caught with an NFL like challenge, according to the commentary on MUTV. It would have been good to see that.

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Liverpool found themselves ahead once again in the match after making four more changes. Xherdan Shaqiri beat Joel Pereira at close range in the 66th minute of the match, leaving United with more to do in order to level or push to win the match. The Liverpool supporters will be celebrating this match as it must mean so much for them right now. Bless them, they only have one trophy to show for the last 12 years.

Mourinho made two more changes in the 71st minute of the match with Tahith Chong replacing Mitchell and Fred replacing Mata, making his first appearance for his new club. Liverpool won another penalty in the 73rd minute after Herrera seemingly took his man down in the box. Ojo scored, stuttering his run up and beating Pereira from the spot. United faced defeat for the first time in the USA, oh well.

After conceding the third goal of the game, United needed to get themselves back into the game. Sanchez nearly did that, getting through on goal but seeing his shot head off target, perhaps a good chance for United to claw something back. In the 80th minute of the match, Mourinho made three more changes with Tuanzebe, Herrera, and Sanchez being replaced by Josh Bohui, Ro-Shaun Williams, Angel Gomes.

Just after the changes, Liverpool scored their fourth goal, Shaqiri’s second, scoring an overhead kick past Pereira. It will be like Liverpool have won the Champions League again, like they did in May, oh! I wonder if they will get a trophy for this match or whether Klopp will use it for bragging rights over Mourinho, seeing as Liverpool have not beaten him at United yet.

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It was a 4-1 defeat for United in their second International Champions Cup match, their fourth pre-season match in the USA. Next up for United will be Real Madrid at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami in the early hours of the 1 August (in the United Kingdom). Jose Mourinho will not be worried about the result. It was a friendly match. He will be more interested in the fitness of his players.

Goals: Andreas Pereira 30′

Manchester United: Grant (J. Pereira 46′); Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Bailly, Tuanzebe (Bohui 80′), Mitchell (Chong 72′); McTominay, Herrera (Williams 80′), A. Pereira; Mata (Fred 72′), Sanchez (Gomes 80′)

Substitutes Not Used: Shaw; Garner, Hamilton; Greenwood

2018/19 – International Champions Cup – AC Milan – Carson, CA

Manchester United won 9-8 on penalties after drawing 1-1 with AC Milan in the opening game of the International Champions Cup in Carson, California. Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a sublime finish, however, Suso equalised two minutes later.

Jose Mourinho made seven changes with Lee Grant starting in goal again with Matteo Darmian replacing the injured Antonio Valencia, who had headed back to Manchester for treatment on his calf injury. Axel Tuanzebe starts his first game this summer with Scott McTominay replacing James Garner in the team. Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata lead the line after Anthony Martial left the USA to be with his pregnant girlfriend.

United started the match in good stead, getting a credible opportunity on goal after winning a free-kick in the first minute. Mata’s delivery asked questions of the Milan defence, coming to nothing though. McTominay inside the third minute, had a chance on goal but Gianluigi Donnarumma made the save, denying the Academy graduate from scoring the opening goal of the game.

In the fifth minute of the match, Frank Kessie had a shot on goal, hitting the side netting. United started to take control of the game, pressing the Milan defence and seeking to gain something in the early stages. In the seventh minute, Sanchez was fouled around 30-yards out, winning a free-kick for United. The Chilean took the free-kick, aiming for goal with Donnarumma parrying out for a corner.

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United took the lead in the 12th minute of the game after Mata sent a through ball into Sanchez, who was clean through Milan’s defence, beating Donnarumma firing into the far corner of the net. United did not score in the last match, scoring once in the first game. This will be a welcome goal by the Chilean. The lead didn’t last long with Suso equalising in the 15th minute of the match, assisted by Leonardo Bonucci.

United looked to get ahead in the game again with Sanchez looking to start something, playing the ball to the left and waiting in the box to get a cross in. Sadly, nothing came of this attack for United but Mourinho’s side were still on top in this period of the game, pressuring the Milan defence and winning another corner in the 22nd minute after some free-flowing play. Sanchez went for goal from the corner, just off target.

United had a great chance in the 27th minute with Sanchez on the break, Mata in the box and the Chilean passing the ball with Herrera having a shot on goal, which was deflected out with United winning a corner. United were still dominating, seemingly catching Donnarumma off his line, the Italian saving his blushes but giving United another corner with McTominay heading towards goal, Donnarumma catching it.

Milan won a corner and pressured United for a period, aiming to take the lead themselves. The shot on goal was caught by Grant as United looked to pressure the Italian side once again. There was a water break in the game in the 31st minute with Mourinho talking to his players, seemingly making suggestions ahead of the remainder of the half.

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United were playing some good football, stringing some good passes together and creating some good chances. In the 40th minute, Mata had the chance to shoot but was somehow dispossessed with Milan getting some time to threaten themselves. United were showing signs of danger, mostly through Sanchez, who looks to be starting to hit some form, despite this being a pre-season match.

United created another chance late in the first half with Darmian on the ball but his cross being hit too hard and missing any chance of connecting with a teammate. Three minutes were added on at the end of the first half. Milan were looking to take charge of the game, trying to pressure United, winning a free-kick which was well over the crossbar instead of causing problems for Grant.

It was an entertaining half of football with United adding more creativity to their game and Sanchez seemingly looking like a player not far from hitting scintillating form, which will be good for United ahead of the new season. Kessie had a late chance for Milan, which was blocked, resulting in a corner for Milan, which did not happen because the referee ended the half, ending 1-1.

At the start if the second half, Mourinho made one change with Joel Pereira replacing Grant. United should have taken the lead through Sanchez in the 47th minute of the match after the Chilean rushed into the box but did not connect with the ball enough to find the back of the net. McTominay had another opportunity to find a goal, unable to do so in the early stages of the second half.

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In the 55th minute of the match, after a lapse of concentration by United, Milan were able to break through and attempt to find the goal that would put them ahead in the game. It never happened after the defence thwarted the attack, adding pressure in the final seconds. United immediately got back on the attack themselves, seeking to find a winner themselves. Bailly dropped down injured but was able to continue.

Shaw had an opportunity to create something in the 62nd minute of the match, going for goal and winning a corner. Shaw then had another shot on goal but Pepe Reina, who had just replaced Donnarumma, made a great save. The offside flag was raised though as Sanchez was interfering with play, from an offside position so a goal, if one was scored, would not have counted anyway.

Milan had another chance to take something from the game in the 66th minute of the match but the shot on goal was well over the crossbar and still rising into the stands. Suso was lively for the Italian side, pressuring United’s defence in the box, winning a corner, which was cleared by United, ending up a goal kick for Pereira. Milan were straight back on the prowl for a second goal though.

United had a great chance with an over the top ball his to Sanchez, who was rushing into Milan’s box, the defence cut his angle down so he could not immediately shoot. Mata arrived into the box and Sanchez passed the ball to him but the Spaniard’s shot was met by Reina, thwarting another good chance from United. Sanchez is having a great game. Perhaps he was judged, by some, too soon!

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Kessie had a chance in the 79th minute but it came to nothing. Sanchez then launched a blistering run into Milan’s half, passing the ball to keep the attack alive but Milan then dispossessing the launching an attack themselves, which came to nothing. Milan won a free-kick from a good position but Pereira caught the ball to thwart the chance.

In the 74th minute, Mourinho made a change with Tim Fosu-Mensah replacing Shaw with the manager signalling Darmian to move over to the left-back position with Fosu-Mensah playing as the right-back. The Dutchman immediately got involved in the game, dispossessing Milan in the box to keep United in charge of the game with just under 15 minutes to play. The referee called for another water break in the 77th minute of the match.

In the 80th minute, Herrera had a shot on goal after some good interplay from United with Sanchez, Herrera, Pereira and Mata all involved. With ten minutes remaining, the match was likely to go to penalties as a winner would need to be found. United seemed determined to find a winner with Sanchez the standout player from the match so far.

Milan nearly scored the winner in the 85th minute but they hit the post after beating Pereira, saving United’s blushes. Milan were dealing with the advantage at this stage of the game, pressuring United on the edge of their area, seeking a way to win the game. Milan won a free-kick, which seemed like Darmian was fouled, the referee giving it the other way.

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The free-kick was launched into the box, Pereira rose to catch the ball, did not get a grip of it, recovering and sending United forward. In the 88th minute of the match, Ethan Hamilton made his debut, replacing Mata. Milan had a chance in the last minute of the match but Bailly cut out the pass inside the box, thwarting another opportunity to score.

Three minutes of stoppage time was played at the end of the second half. Here was booked in stoppage time for a challenge, the first booking of the match. The match ended 1-1 with penalties deciding the result. Pereira took the first penalty, beating Reina. 1-0 United. Calhanoglu scored Milan’s first penalty. Herrera took United’s second, beating Reina. 2-1 United. Borini took Milan’s second, saved by Pereira. Still 2-1 to United.

Sanchez took United’s third penalty, beating Reina. United lead 3-1 now. Kessie took Milan’s third, scoring. 3-2 to United now. McTominay took United’s fourth, which was saved by Reina. Still 3-2 to United. Suso took Milan’s fourth, Pereira making the save. Still 3-2 to United. Joel Pereira took the final penalty, replacing Smalling on Mourinho’s orders, saved by Reina. Still 3-2 to United. Reina took Milan’s fifth, now 3-3.

Sudden death now. Bailly took United’s sixth, saved by Reina. Advantage Milan now with the chance to win the match. Romagnoli took Milan’s sixth, hitting the post. United were still alive. Smalling took United’s seventh, beating Reina. 4-3 United. Milan have to score now. Calabria took Milan’s seventh, just beating Pereira. Now 4-4.

Tuanzebe took United’s eighth, beating Reina. 5-4 to United. Kalinic with Milan’s eighth, beating Pereira. Now 5-5. Fosu-Mensah with United’s ninth, beating Reina. 6-5 to United. Musacchio took Milan’s ninth, beating Pereira. Now 6-6. Hamilton took United’s tenth, saved by Reina. Mauri took Milan’s tenth, saved by Pereira. Darmian with United’s eleventh, beat Reina. 7-6 to United. Antonelli beat Pereira, now 7-7.

Pereira took his second penalty, beating Reina. 8-7 to United. Calhanoglu beat Pereira with a stunning penalty, taking it to 8-8. Herrera took his second, beating Reina. Now 9-8 to United. Kessie took his second, hitting his shot over the crossbar. United won 9-8 on penalties. The second match in the International Champions Cup will be against Liverpool in Michigan on Saturday evening, kick off 22:05 BST in the United Kingdom.

Goals: Alexis Sanchez 12′

Assists: Juan Mata 12′

Manchester United: Grant (J. Pereira 46′); Darmian, Bailly, Smalling, Tuanzebe, Shaw (Fosu-Mensah 74′); Herrera, McTominay, A. Pereira; Mata (Hamilton 88′), Sanchez

Substitutes Not Used: Mitchell, Williams; Garner, Gomes, Bohui, Chong, Greenwood

Bookings: Ander Herrera 90+1

2018/19 – Pre-Season Friendly – San Jose Earthquakes – Santa Clara, CA

Manchester United drew for the second time in their pre-season tour of the USA, this time against San Jose Earthquakes at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. United had a few chances, through Eric Bailly, who hit the crossbar, Alexis Sanchez, who went wide with a free-kick and Scott McTominay, who did not put enough into his header on goal.

Jose Mourinho made a few changes from the side which start against Club America in the early hours of Friday morning. Alexis Sanchez, Tahith Chong, James Garner, and Joel Pereira started in place of Demetri Mitchell, Juan Mata, Scott McTominay, and Lee Grant. United started the game in good stead, pressing the American side for an early goal. Valencia saw his cross into the box cleared, thwarting the attack.

In the fourth minute of the match, United were in possession in the San Jose box. Sanchez whipped in a cross which Bailly got to the end of, hitting the inside of the crossbar instead of the back of the net. It was a good chance for United. However, in the eighth minute of the match, Valencia was replaced by Matteo Darmian due to injury.

United were looking bright in the early stages of the match and Sanchez, after a long summer holiday, looked ready to drive United forward. The Chilean had the chance to cross the ball into the box, after chasing it into the corner but could not get the cross away from his man. San Jose, whose fitness levels will be much better then United with them being three months into their season, saw them enter a purple patch.

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In the twelfth minute, United had better possession of the ball with Shaw driving forward into space. Martial, as the striker, was not getting the service he needed, which has been problematic over the past few seasons but right now it will be because of the likes of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, also Fred not being part of the tour, so far at least.

Sanchez was fouled by Florian Jungworth in the 17th minute of the match, the German seemingly grabbing the next of the Chilean, bringing him down. The San Jose captain was shown the yellow card, the first one of the match. Twenty minutes into the match, Shaw conceded a free-kick, which came to nothing for the Earthquakes. United, despite not having much creativity, were doing well thus far.

In the 24th minute, Martial had a break on the ball, got into the box, looked like he was going to shoot and got dispossessed at the last second. Shaw had a chance in the 26th minute but his volley hit the ground, taking the thunder out of the strike and sending it over the crossbar. Two minutes later, Martial fed the ball into Ander Herrera but the return from the Spaniard was not strong enough.

Sanchez won a free-kick on the half hour mark of the match, took it himself and saw his shot whistle just wide of the target. Two minutes later, there was a water break in the game, which was something both teams look like they needed at this stage. On the sidelines during the break, Kieran McKenna was speaking to a number of the players, giving them instructions, presumably from the manager.

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The break ended three minutes later and two minutes into the restart, seemingly one of the highlights of the first half, a dead bird had to be removed from the pitch with Jungworth removing his shirt, taking the bird off the grass and returning to the pitch to continue the game. San Jose won a free-kick at the edge of United’s box in the 40th minute of the game, which came to nothing for the MLS side.

The time from the water break was added on at the end of the half with United seeking to go into the break a goal to the good. However, it was not happening for Mourinho’s side. San Jose were adjudged to be offside twice in the added time, seeking to capitalise themselves. The half ended 0-0 with the chances from the game both coming from United with Bailly’s crossbar rattler and Sanchez’s free-kick.

At the start of the second half, Mourinho made five changes with Grant replaced Pereira, Timothy Fosu-Mensah replacing Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe replacing Smalling, Scott McTominay replacing Garner, and Mata replacing Chong. United had a chance through Pereira in the 51st minute but it was always going to be wide of the target. United needed to be a little more clinical in this half of the game.

In the 57th minute of the match, San Jose could have found the first goal, seemingly beating Grant with Fosu-Mensah clearing the ball off the line, which may earn him some plaudits with Mourinho, especially in the fact he is seeking a new central defender this summer. Perhaps the Dutchman could be a player in contention with the media driving the agenda of United seeking to buy?

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United had a good chance on goal in the 65th minute of the match with Herrera through on goal but he was offside. United made another change with Sanchez being replaced by Mason Greenwood. United had more possession in the second half of the game but in terms of chances being created, there was little that needed to be spoken about.

San Jose had another shot on goal but Grant made a great save to deny the MLS side from taking the lead in this game. From the corner, the Earthquakes had another shot but it was rising over the crossbar despite Grant rising to tip the ball over the crossbar. United, after breaking forward, won a free-kick after Herrera was taken down just on the edge of the box in the right-hand side.

Mata took the free-kick, floating the ball into the box but the Earthquakes made the clearance with United having to regain possession and start their counter again. United won another corner with 15 minutes remaining after Greenwood was calling for the ball in the centre of the box and the ball being put out of play. Nothing came of the corner.

Mourinho made another change with Mitchell replacing Shaw in the 76th minute of the match, just before another water break delayed the match from continuing. United had another chance with McTominay in the box with Greenwood playing the cross into the box but the Scotland international did not put enough on the chance.

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United started to press late into the game but that inspired San Jose to break forward themselves. With ten minutes to play, the MLS side nearly scored, beating Grant with only the crossbar saving United blushes. In the 83rd minute of the match, Mourinho made another change with Angel Gomes replacing Pereira. Grant made another save late on, denying Chris Wondolowski. United then had a corner, which came to nothing.

Two minutes of added time was played at the end of the half with both sides seeking that winning goal. The match ended 0-0 with little to congratulate either side for. Grant was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the second half. In terms of creativity, United need to find something from somewhere otherwise the start of the season is going to be tough with at least seven first team players missing from the squad.

Manchester United: J. Pereira (Grant 46′); Valencia (Darmian 8′), Bailly (Fosu-Mensah 46′), Smalling (Tuanzebe 46′), Shaw (Mitchell 76′); Herrera, Garner (McTominay 46′), A. Pereira (Gomes 83′); Chong (Mata 46′), Martial, Sanchez (Greenwood 65′)

Substitutes Not Used: Williams; Bohui, Hamilton

Bookings: Axel Tuanzebe 90′

2018/19 – Pre-Season Friendly – Club America – Phoenix, AZ

Manchester United drew 1-1 with Mexican side Club America in the first pre-season match of the summer, played at the University of Phoenix Stadium. It was a goal-less first half with the Mexican side scoring on the hour after a number of changes. Juan Mata scored United equaliser after hitting the post in the first half of the match.

Jose Mourinho started an experienced side against the Mexican team in United’s first pre-season match of the summer. Anthony Martial led the line, flanked by Juan Mata and Demetri Mitchell with a midfield trio of Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay, and Andreas Pereira ahead of a back four which consisted of Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, and Luke Shaw, with Lee Grant making his debut for his new club.

United started the match and immediately tried to get into the advanced area in search of an opening goal of pre-season, however, Club America were seeking the same thing. It may have been 40 degrees outside but the atmosphere inside the stadium, with the roof closed, was much cooler. It was a bright start for Mitchell, who started the match in an advanced left-wing role.

United had the first chance in the seventh minute of the match with Pereira moving the ball forward to Martial, seeking to play a one-two with Herrera but the Mexican side cut possessions thwarting United’s chance to find an early goal. The Mexican side then had a period of possession before United won the ball through Martial with United taking charge of the game, holding possession and launching an attack.

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In the ninth minute, Martial came down in the box, seemingly with the player seeking a penalty. However, a corner was awarded instead after the Frenchman went to ground too easily, which came to nothing for Mourinho’s side. The Mexican side had a chance in the 12th minute of the match, which came to nothing for them. United had another shot on goal in the 13th minute, through Martial from just outside of the box, it was over.

In the 15th minute of the match, United were advancing into the final third of the pitch, finding Mata in a perfect position to unleash a shot on goal, which came off the far post with the Spaniard just inside the box when he shot on goal. It was an unfortunate miss for United. United then started to control the game, in slow fashion with plenty of players in Club America’s half of the pitch.

United were the team on top in the first quarter of the match, having another chance to take the lead in the 19th minute which saw Shaw in an advanced area aiming to get something for his side. Martial had a shot on goal in the 22nd minute of the match, taking a double deflection with United winning a corner, taken by Pereira, which was cleared from danger by the Mexican side.

Club America started to get themselves into the game in the 26th minute with Grant having to make his first save as a United player. United seemed to be a bit sloppy in defence, unable to clear the ball in the run up to Grant’s save. The Mexican side had another shot, after a good period of play from United, in the 31st minute of the match but the shot was well off target and into the stands.

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Club America tested United’s defence again with Grant coming into play once again with an impressive save to deny the Mexican side from taking the lead. United were unable to clear the ball from the danger area in the run up to the shot with the Mexican’s rushing into advanced areas and seemingly seeking to open United up, which they nearly did. It was impressive play by both teams.

In the 37th minute of the match, Club America were breaking through United’s midfield and defence once again, although not as dangerously as they had, at times, launching a cross into the box with United making the clearance, giving away a corner, which came to nothing, giving another corner away minutes later, which turned into another, all coming to nothing for the Mexican side.

In the final five minutes of the first half, both United and Club America were trying to find the better chance to take a lead into the break. Valencia played a good ball forward, into space, nearly getting ahead of his man and advancing but the Mexican side made the clearance to deny Valencia from the space to put a cross into the box. United won a free-kick, through Martial in the 44th minute of the match.

Mata aimed to take the free-kick quickly, the referee stopping it and giving the Mexican side enough time to find some stability in their side. Pereira ended up taking the free-kick, sending the ball goal wards but not quite on target. Club America ended the half on the front foot, gaining ground and seeking to end in style but United made the clearance, which ended the half.

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At the start of the second half, Mourinho made two changes with Joel Pereira replacing Grant and Timothy Fosu-Mensah replacing Valencia. United started the second half more defensive with the Mexican side, after a number of changes, seemingly seeking to change the game. Whilst United did break through Martial, he lost the ball just before entering the final third.

Shaw won a free-kick in the 50th minute of the game after being blocked when trying to create something for his side. It came to nothing for United. The game was starting to become fast-paced with the Mexican side, somewhat fresher with all the changes, putting some pressure on United but it was pressure they were able to deal with efficiently and effectively.

Shaw made good dispossession in the box and led United on the attack. However, the Mexican side regained possession and broke on the counter. Joel Pereira made a good save, coming off his line and cutting out the chance of a goal, showing his ability as a goalkeeper, which will be good for him before he heads out of the club on loan at some point this summer, presumably when De Gea arrives next week.

In the 56th minute of the match, Martial was in a good position in the box, seeking to collect the pass but Club America dealt with the chance effectively, making the clearance from danger. In the 58th minute, two more changes were made by the Mexican side with United still having nine players on the pitch from the first half.

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Club America took the lead on the hour mark with a bullet header which Pereira could not stop, straight into the top corner. It was a great goal which left United needing to gain something from this match. Mourinho made a double change with Tahith Chong and Matteo Darmian replacing Martial and Mitchell. United seemed to be under the cosh in the passing five minutes after going a goal down.

Chong had a good bit of involvement in the 66th minute, playing the ball into the advanced area after regaining possession and breaking forward. However, his pass did not reach a teammate in order to create something for United. United won a corner in the 75th minute of the match, still trailing. Just before the corner was taken, Mourinho made another change with 16-year-old Mason Greenwood replacing Shaw.

United found the equaliser in the 79th minute with Mata getting on the end of the ball and firing past the Mexican side’s goalkeeper. It was now level with all the play for in the game. United were off the mark in terms of goals, despite going 1-0 down early in the second half. United won a corner in the 83rd minute, despite pressuring the Mexican side, nothing came of it.

With just over five minutes left, McTominay was down, seemingly suffering from a head injury. He was treated on the pitch but came off with Axel Tuanzebe replacing him. Angel Gomes then replaced Mata with three minutes of normal time left in the game. Two minutes were added on at the end of the match. That was it for the first pre-season game, not a defeat for United but not a victory, however, some impressive performances.

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Goals: Juan Mata 78′

Manchester United: Grant (J. Pereira 46′); Valencia (Fosu-Mensah 46′), Bailly, Smalling, Shaw (Greenwood 76′); Herrera, McTominay (Tuanzebe 87′), A. Pereira; Mata (Gomes 87′), Martial (Darmian 60′), Mitchell (Chong 60′)

Substitutes Not Used: Williams; Hamilton, Garner; Bohui

Bookings: Luke Shaw 73′

Pre-Season 2017 – UC Sampdoria

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

Pre-Season 2017 – Valerenga IF

Manchester United beat Valerenga 3-0 at the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo, Norway on Sunday evening. Marouane Fellaini opened the scoring in the 44th minute of the match with a deflected header, which seemingly ended speculation of an exit to Galatasaray this summer as he looks to continue his career at the Old Trafford club ahead of the new season. It was a half of many chances for United, who just could not get the ball into the back of the next, at least until the Belgian midfielder, who everyone loves to hate, put to ball into the back of the net. Henrikh Mkhitaryan nearly opened the scoring after Juan Mata set him up with a chance.

Romelu Lukaku scored United’s second goal a minute after the start of the second half, after Jose Mourinho made nine changes at the break, playing four at the back in the first half and three at the back in the second half. United dominated the possession throughout the match, showing the different classes between the Premier League and the Norwegian league, a void which was not all that close. Paul Pogba did his best to get involved in the game, peppering the opposition with shots throughout his time in the match, him being replaced by Scott McTominay in the 61st minute and many suggest McTominay, despite starting his United career at this level was not good enough.

McTominay scored United third goal in the 70th minute of the match, ending the scoring with United leading their plaudits in their first pre-season match of the summer in Europe. United started the match playing a 4-1-4-1 formation, starting the second in a 3-5-2 formation, which Mourinho will most likely play against Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in just over a week’s time. The Portuguese manager will be pleased with the performance, the second half being much better than the first as he gets his side ready to face Sampdoria in Dublin on Wednesday evening, the last pre-season match of the summer before competitive football starts.

After the match, United manager Jose Mourinho spoke about various things he saw throughout the match, starting with his overall thoughts, saying:

“I am satisfied. I thank Ronny [Deila] and these boys [Valerenga] for the game they gave us and I thank the ref because they had a very professional training session. Of course, Champions League referees are top quality referees. It was good for us because it was a good pitch and the opponents were very well organised, trying to play from the back. After the United States, and matches where we were struggling with jet lag, it was a good game for us where I could play each player for 45 minutes. Now, with one more step, a little rest and the Sampdoria match and then the official season starts and, until now, we have no injuries. So let’s see if we can start the official season with this positive situation.”

Mourinho also spoke about Romelu Lukaku’s third goal for the club after failing to score in two matches during the tour of the United States of America, saying:

“It’s nice. You know strikers, they like to score goals. It’s not important for me but probably it’s important for him. It’s important for his confidence and for his self-esteem. Strikers like to score goals; us managers, many times we are happy with them even when they don’t score, because of the way they participate in the team organisation and game plans. But, for them, to score their goals is always important.”

Finally, Mourinho also spoke about the progress of new central defender, Victor Lindelof, saying:

“Step by step. Benfica is a giant club, I always think that players coming from Benfica come mentally ready because it is a big club and the responsibility to play for them makes players ready. But the Portuguese league is different and has different qualities. Benfica is one of the dominant teams, so he’s more used to playing with the ball than without the ball, so he needs his time and we are going to give him his time to develop. Such a young player needs time. Manchester United is a huge club with huge responsibility; the Premier League is the same. So let’s give him time, but we’re happy with what he is doing, step by step.”

Goals: Marouane Fellaini 44′, Romelu Lukaku 47′, Scott McTominay 70′

Manchester United: Romero (J. Pereira 61), Darmian (Fosu-Mensah 46′), Bailly (Lindelof 46′), Jones (Smalling 46′), Blind (Mitchell 46′), Carrick (Tuanzebe 46′), Fellaini (Herrera 46′), Pogba (McTominay 61), Mata (A. Pereira 46′), Mkhitaryan (Martial 46′), Rashford (Lukaku 46′)

Pre-Season 2017 – Barcelona

Manchester United were beaten in Landover, Maryland but a resurgent Barcelona side who scored a solo goal through Neymar, his third of the Catalan clubs pre-season tour this summer. United started a strong lineup and played well throughout, but just could not create anything. Defensively, United did well at times, but creatively, things need to change. This side, against one of the best in the world, looked short of player to light the pitch up. Romelu Lukaku played well, Paul Pogba seemed determined and Marcus Rashford tried to get something going, with United falling short of the mark. It’s only pre-season, fitness is the main thing, not winning.

Jose Mourinho started a strong side against Barcelona with David De Gea in goal, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Daley Blind in defence. Michael Carrick and Paul Pogba in midfield, Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard all playing behind Romelu Lukaku. United kicked the game off with Barcelona gaining possession of the ball and going on the attack before United won back possession and made the clearance. United then went on the attack through Rashford, crossing into Lukaku, who failed to threaten the Dutch goalkeeper. Neymar then attacked for Barcelona, forcing a save out of De Gea.

In side the sixth minute Lionel Messi, put forward by Neymar could have scored but De Gea made the save, not grasping the ball, but getting to it. A minute or so later Barcelona had another chance with De Gea saving again giving the Catalan team a corner. De Gea made a save from the corner too, thwarting the Catalans so far at the start of the match. In the eleventh minute of the match after some good play by Lukaku, Blind got forward hoping to set the Belgian striker up for a goal but the ball was intercepted. United were giving as much as they had received so far in this match, which is a good sign.

Messi had a shot on goal with some quick play in the twelfth minute but the Argentinian’s shot was wide of the target, luckily for United. Last season Messi scored 54 goals in 52 matches, which is some good for. A minute later Lukaku had a long-range shot on goal, which was straight down the throat of Jasper Cillessen, a good attempt from United’s new striker. Paul Pogba had a shot on goal from long-range also with Cillessen stretching to make the save. United are not afraid of this Barcelona side, which is a very good sign. Henrikh Mkhitaryan had a shot also, which was wide of the target.

United won a corner in the 17th minute of the match after Lingard took a shot which was deflected behind. United threatened from the corner with Lingard advancing to the left of the goal with Cillessen making the safe to thwart the Red Devils. Barcelona then went on the attack with United attempting to close them down, stopping the attack by giving away a throw-in. United got forward on the attack, running 60 yards with the ball but Sergio Busquets made the challenge, giving away a corner. Rashford took the corner, but it was cleared into United’s half, with them then pushing forward but Smalling was flagged for offside.

Messi won a free-kick for Barcelona in the 22nd minute of the match after it appeared that he was bundled over, seemingly making the best of the challenge to put his team in contention to threaten again. Messi took the free-kick and hit it straight into United’s wall. Lingard on the advance was then hacked down by Ivan Rakitic unnecessarily with United winning a free-kick. Barcelona then regained possession and the end-to-end play resumed after Luis Suarez took a dive. Lukaku broke forward again, not getting anything for his team. Pogba had another shot on goal, just seeing his effort go wide again.

Just before the half hour stage of the match, Barcelona were having more attacking play threatening United with De Gea making a few saves and United getting the better of the attacks. From the corner, Barcelona were maintaining their shot passes to create space in United’s attacking third keeping United on their toes. Barcelona seemed rusty as they were just not threatening enough, which will suit United well as a win inside 90 minutes will see the club clinch the International Champions Cup, which they won in 2014 in Louis van Gaal’s first pre-season with the club. Barcelona took the lead in the 31st minute through Neymar, Valencia lost his balance in the box.

Barcelona seemed to toy with United after their opening goal, which was not the first time United had fallen behind during pre-season, Real Salt Lake took the lead in the second match on this tour. Barcelona are a much better side though. United have been giving as much as they got, at times, which as I said was a good sign. Barcelona won another free-kick in the 40th minute of the patch after Messi was fouled by Pogba. The Argentinian took the free-kick, which sailed over the crossbar. United got a credible attack going, sitting in the box, but the attack was closed down. Blind pulled Messi back, could have been booked, but wasn’t.

Suarez got forward in the 42nd minute, threatening to score Barcelona’s second goal, but De Gea got down to thwart the Uruguayan from finding a second goal for his club just before the end of the first half. United broke forward with two minutes of the half to play with Lukaku waiting in the box, making space and the ball was crossed in, missing the Belgian and Lingard trying to chase the ball which went out of play. Another attack for United, another one which saw them fail to really threaten Barcelona. Pogba was determined to get something from this game. United had another chance with Blind crossing, just a bit too soon for Lukaku. 1-0 Barca.

At the start of the second half Barcelona made ten changes with United making a five with Sergio Romero replacing De Gea, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly replacing Smalling and Lindelof in the centre of defence, Matteo Darmian replacing Blind at left-back and Marouane Fellaini replacing Carrick. United had a lot to do in order to get back into the game as despite all the changes and the fact the game had fizzled out a little, the understudies (with some experience) for Barcelona in this match were just as threatening, just not as polished. Valencia tried to start something for United, but the attacking play was closed down quickly by Barca.

Around the hour mark things were not going too well for United with Lingard holding his groin unable to continue, which was a shame after a bright pre-season. Anthony Martial replaced Lingard and Mourinho made another change with Andreas Pereira replacing Mkhitaryan. United were struggling to put an attack together with Barcelona seeming much fresher and ready to thwart chances created by their opposition. United need two goals to win the International Champions Cup, which seems a long way from possibility right now. Martial had a chance in the 65th minute, seeing his effort off target.

Barcelona had a chance at the other end with Romeo making the save to thwart the Catalan side. Bailly seemed to be caught flat footed at a moment whereby he could have possible done more to regain possession of challenge the attacking player. In the 70th minute Pereira had a chance to score, but it cleared the crossbar, unfortunately for United, who really need to get back into the match. United had an opportunity to score again, creating space in Barca’s defence but the shot was played straight into the goalkeeper, who was having a good game. United had another shot minutes later, this time from Pogba, still not threatening enough to get into the match.

Barcelona won a corner, but Romero caught the ball inside his area sending United on the attack. United had started to do more to get something going, but Barca were seemingly looking to keep control of the match, keeping a clean sheet, which seemed possible at this moment in time. There was 15 minutes remaining for United to get back into the match. Andres Iniesta could have caused more damage, his attempt did not cause problems for United. Martial had some good play on the left flank, taking his defender on, but his tough was heavy and the ball went out of play. The attendance inside the FedEx Field was 80,162, much better the Sunday’s match.

Marouane Fellaini was booked in the 83rd minute fo the match for a foul, perhaps being lucky to still be on the pitch after elbowing his opposition, only coming on at the start of the second half. Axel Tuanzebe replaced Valencia in the 84th minute of the match with the 19-year-old getting a few mont minutes of pre-season action, albeit playing at right-back. In the 90th minute Rashford and Lucas Digne went down on the right flank with the United striker seemingly in pain, but continuing. Barcelona got the free-kick, not doing anything of note but United still needed a goal to level the score. Rashford was flagged offside on the attack Four minutes added on.

In the first minute of added time, Barcelona seemed to handle the ball in the area, close to the referee but nothing was given. On the replay, it was accidental. United needed to go for broke, looking for that goal which would take the match to penalties, like the one against Real Madrid on Sunday. It was a good work out for the players, which is what pre-season is about, not winning pointless silverware, but it would have been nice. Bailly won a free-kick for United with just over a minute to play, it being hacked away back into United’s half. Tuanzebe started something with Martial not shooting and being dispossessed. Rashford had a chance too, off target.

United lost the match 1-0 which will end their pre-season tour of the United States of America. They still have two pre-season matches against Valerenga in Oslo and Sampdoria in Dublin, also the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in Macedonia, so plenty of time to get the fitness levels to where they need to be, perhaps even a new face or two before the three matches have been played.

Manchester United: De Gea (Romero 46′); Valencia (Tuanzebe 84′), Smalling (Bailly 46′), Lindelof (Jones 46′), Blind (Darmian 46′); Carrick (Fellaini 46′), Pogba; Lingard (Martial 63′), Mkhitaryan (A. Pereira 63′), Rashford; Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Fosu-Mensah, Mitchell; McTominay

copyright: JW