Manchester United beat Liverpool 4-0 in the opening pre-season fixture in Bangkok, Thailand. Jadon Sancho, Fred and Anthony Martial scored the three goals in the opening 33 minutes of the match. Facundo Pellistri scored a beat goal late in the game to complete the victory.
United started well against Liverpool in Bangkok almost having a chance to score after an Alisson mistake in the opening minute. Isaac Mabaya was starting to cause United some problems from there with him pressuring and beating Luke Shaw before shooting and hitting David De Gea’s boot.
Jadon Sancho had his second chance of the match in the seventh minute, inside the Liverpool box creating some space but he hesitated before passing poorly to Fred with Liverpool then regaining possession and averting danger.
De Gea made a fine Dave to deny Luis Diaz after he turned Diogo Dalot inside out on the left before firing a low side-footed effort towards the far post. De Gea was equal to the shot, which was not a great one. Dalot needs to find some improvement to continue to be the first choice right-back.
Sancho opened the scoring in the 13th minute of the match following a poor touch by Mabaya. Bruno Fernandes sought a teammate at the far post but Mabaya rushed his clearance on taking possession of the ball, finding Sancho who beat Alisson to put United 1-0 up.
Marcus Rashford had a chance on goal just three minutes later, beating Nat Phillips one-on-one but the Liverpool defender then stood firm, winning the ball back from the England forward who could only look frustrated. United were pressing well though at this stage.
Rashford almost scored the second goal of the match in the 18th minute but he hit the side netting instead of the target. United were finding a lot of joy on the high press. It is almost like this team was capable of this kind of football last season, deciding not to play in this way in the end. Or so it looks.
Liverpool then had a period on top with them banging on the door to equalise and after many opportunities they will be asking ‘how did we not score?’ It was a positive period for them with United having to defend, which also needs improvement – but it is the first pre-season match this summer.
Rashford had another great chance in the 23rd minute of the match, cutting the ball back from Sancho but he did not kick the ball well, meaning it was another chance wasted for United. Fred doubled United’s lead in the 30th minute, chipping the Liverpool goalkeeper from close-range.
It was a good finish from the Brazilian midfielder – which is something that sometimes happens with him. Most of the goals that he has scored have been good ones. Liverpool made ten substitutions during a drinks break with them needing to try and get back into this match.
Three minutes later it was three goals for United with Anthony Martial making the run after some slick play from Liverpool, in possession of the ball. The Frenchman ran up the right channel, cutting in and lifting the ball over Alisson to put United 3-0 up.
United continued to play in the same way for the remainder of the half, despite the substitutions that Liverpool brought on. At the end of the half it was still 3-0 to United. After the break, United made a total of ten changes with De Gea the only one remaining on the pitch from the first half.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Alex Telles, Eric Bailly, Tyrell Malacia, Zidane Iqbal, Charlie Savage, Facundo Pellistri, Donny van de Beek, Anthony Elanga and Amad Diallo all came on to hold their own against Liverpool. Still the big guns of United rivals were missing from this match.
With the difference in players, United were still seeking to play in the same way, also defending to retain their lead. No additional goals were scored or conceded in the early stages of the half with few chances created. Changes were coming though for Liverpool.
In the 61st minute, Jurgen Klopp made ten more changes with Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Fabinho, Thiago, Naby Keita, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate all coming on against this considerably weaker United side.
De Gea came off in the 68th minute of the match after what seemed like an injury for the goalkeeper, which could be a problem if it is confirmed to be a bad one – not that it looked that bad. Tom Heaton replaced the number one, who could be out of the next match on Friday.
United ended up scoring a fourth goal in the 76th with Facundo Pellistri scoring his first goal of the summer. It is suggested that he could go out on loan this season but perhaps he should be given a chance to put his foot in the door.
Liverpool’s impressive forward line did not really impress in this match with Salah and Nunez both getting some chances and Nunez failing at the end of the match with a very easy shot on goal. But this is pre-season – not the UEFA Champions League.
Ten Hag will be happy with what he saw from his squad in their opening match of pre-season and it is important that they do not get carried away as they look to finally turn a corner on a turbulent few years and actually look to impress in the Premier League and beyond.
There were a few players missing from this match; Nathan Bishop, Matej Kovar, Harry Maguire, Axel Tuanzebe and James Garner, plus for four unused substitutes; Ethan Laird, Hannibal Mejbri, Tahith Chong and Alejandro Garnacho – who could be ready for the next fixture.
United will now fly to Melbourne where they will play two matches at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace. They will then fly to Perth to face Aston Villa at the Optus Stadium before flying back to Europe for that leg of pre-season.
David De Gea: Put in a good performance in the first half. Made a few good saves to deny Liverpool and held his line well. Seemed to get a knock during the match which forced him off the pitch late in the second half with Heaton coming on. Could De Gea be a doubt now? ★★★★★★★★
Diogo Dalot: Diaz got the better of him during the first half and he got skinned on one occasion, which luckily did not cause any major problems for United. He was eager in attack and hit the woodwork when United were 3-0 up in the match. ★★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: I thought he defended well in the 45 minutes he played and put himself about to defend with some interceptions, which would have nullified Liverpool’s attack. He will be looking to keep his place this summer with Lisandro Martinez linked to the club. ★★★★★★★★
Raphael Varane: He played well, pushing high up the pitch with United playing a high line to press Liverpool. He defended solidly, as is expected from him. He just does what he does without making a big deal of everything – which is what he has done throughout his career. ★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: Seemed to be up for the challenge this season with him showing signs of him being back to his best – last seen at the end of the 2020/21 season and for England in Euro 2020 last summer. Malacia will help him perfect his game – just by being there. ★★★★★★★
Scott McTominay: Played a physical game, which is normally the case as he looked to show his new manager what he can do, especially with the threat of Frenkie de Jong coming to the club, which could bench him more often than not. ★★★★★★★
Fred: Seemed to play well, although he failed to score at 0-0 in the early stages of the match. That changed though with a great finish to put United 2-0 up. He can be a class finisher at times but for him to keep his place this season, that needs to be regularly. ★★★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Opened the scoring for United with a great finish to beat Alisson. He linked up well with Dalot, who was better in a attacking sense. His awareness on and off the ball was good to see. I look forward to seeing more of Sancho and Ten Hag will feel that way too. ★★★★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: It was a good first match of pre-season for Fernandes. He was good in attack and seemed to start many off, accelerating forwards to keep United on top on the attack. He did not waste the ball in possession too often, which was good to see. ★★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: He did a lot of running and gave Liverpool some problems, which would have helped to unnerve them, but in terms of finishing, he needs to find improvement. His mis-hit after Sancho played the ball into him was up there with Nunez’s for Liverpool. ★★★★★★
Anthony Martial: What a start to pre-season from the Frenchman. He scored a great goal to put United 3-0 up in the match. He started through the middle but for his goal, he cut in from the right to cause Alisson some problems, finding the back of the net. ★★★★★★★★
Eric Bailly: Replaced Varane 46′. The Ivorian bailed out his teammates on more than one occasion during his performance. He defended well and started the counter attack which resulted in United scoring a fourth goal in this match. Perhaps he will stay this summer? ★★★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: Replaced Shaw 46′. He started somewhat confidently in the second half but Liverpool singled him out after catching him out driving all attacks on the left. But he seemed to weather the storm well and kept his cool. ★★★★★★
Alex Telles: Replaced Lindelof 46′. Played in the centre of the defence in the second half of this match. Made a few mistakes, with Bailly having to work harder. Seemed to be a shoe-in with Maguire’s injury. Not sure he has a future at United. ★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Replaced Dalot 46′. Liverpool were more prevalent on the left, so Wan-Bissaka had little to do defensively. He is perhaps being given a chance to find his feet at United with reports of him being up for sale. He did not attack much either. ★★★★★★
Amad Diallo: Replaced Martial 46′. The Ivorian was denied a run on goal after he was fouled somewhat cynically. He combined well with Pellistri though, especially for the Uruguayan’s goal in the 76th minute of the match. He needs more time so he can be judged. ★★★★★★
Facundo Pellistri: Replaced Sancho 46′. Scored a find goal at the end of the match to give United a 4-0 victory over Liverpool. He saw little of the ball with Liverpool dominating possession but came alive in the run to score, which was great to see. ★★★★★★★
Donny van de Beek: Replaced Fernandes 46′. There was little impact from the Dutchman in his preferred position, replacing Fernandes at the start of the second half. Perhaps there is a reason why he starts on the bench? That may change throughout the tour though. ★★★★★
Charlie Savage: Replaced Fred 46′. The academy graduate put in a disciplined performance playing alongside Iqbal. His father tweeted that now we have seen a Savage that can play football. He is a great talent at the club and I have high hopes for him. ★★★★★★
Zidane Iqbal: Replaced McTominay 46′. He was confident against this Liverpool team and never let them faze him, which was great to see. I think we could see more of his this season, especially in the UEFA Europa League, which would be good for him and United. ★★★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: Replaced Rashford 46′. Seemed to be anonymous when on the pitch to a point where Ten Hag called him over and had a word. He seemed to be a positive last season but could fall flat on his face this season with a new manager in town. ★★★★★
Tom Heaton: Replaced De Gea 68′. He perhaps faced the better of the Liverpool attacking players in the final 22 minutes of the match. He did well to deny Nunez from a debut goal, doing what he needed to do, continuing the clean sheet that De Gea kept. ★★★★★★★
Erik ten Hag: Got his formation and tactics right in this match and seemed to be tweaking things throughout the match, which was good to see. As debut matches go for managers, this was a good one. He was vocal and seemed to challenge his players when they needed it. ★★★★★★★★
Goals: Jadon Sancho 12′, Fred 30′, Anthony Martial 33′, Facundo Pellistri 76′
Assists: Amad Diallo 76′
Manchester United: De Gea (Heaton 68′); Dalot (Wan-Bissaka 46′), Lindelof (Telles 46′), Varane (Bailly 46′), Shaw (Malacia 46′); McTominay (Iqbal 46′), Fred (Savage 46′); Sancho (Pellistri 46′), Fernandes (van de Beek 46′), Rashford (Elanga 46′); Martial (Amad 46′)
Substitutes Not Used: Laird; Hannibal; Chong, Garnacho
Written by John Walker