International Reds: Martial scores, Pogba runs the show and De Gea keeps a clean sheet

Manchester United had six players selected for internationals on Thursday evening with David De Gea and Juan Mata representing Spain against Belgium, with Marouane Fellaini on the sidelines through an injury sustained against Hull City at the weekend. Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba represented France against Italy, with Matteo Darmian and Morgan Schneiderlin unselected to represent their countries. Daley Blind faced Greece with the Netherlands and Antonio Valencia represented Ecuador as his country faced Brazil. Here is how I feel the Manchester United players fared during their time on the pitch for their countries on Thursday evening.

David De Gea – Belgium 0-2 Spain

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea started in the 2-0 victory over Roberto Martinez’ Belgium in their friendly ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers next week. De Gea played 90 minutes in the victory. The Spaniard flapped at an early cross, which gave the home side a chance, which did not come off. De Gea was largely solid for the remainder of the match, something he has been for United for the past three seasons. Spain scored in the 34th minute through David Silva with Diego Costa assisting in the goal. In the 62nd minute, Spain was awarded a penalty after Jordan Lukaku fouled Vitolo in the box, a player who had been giving the Belgian problems throughout the match. Silva stepped up to take the penalty, making it 2-0 to Spain, which was the final score. The squad will now head into Monday’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein ready to take their first points in their possible qualification for Russia 2018.

Next Match: Liechtenstein – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Monday 5th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Juan Mata – Belgium 0-2 Spain

Juan Mata was an unused substitute in the 2-0 victory over Belgium. The Manchester United midfielder has earned his place back in the Spain squad after some decent performances. Perhaps the midfielder can play against Liechtenstein on Monday?

Next Match: Liechtenstein – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Monday 5th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Anthony Martial – Italy 1-3 France

Anthony Martial played the first half in the 3-1 victory over Italy on Thursday evening. In the 17th minute of the match, the Manchester United forward scored his first goal for his country after a sublime through ball from teammate Paul Pogba. Martial’s finish from close range came after the player running behind the defensive line, latching onto the Pogba pass, seeing Giorgio Chiellini miss with his attempted interception, burying his shot past Gianluigi Buffon into the bottom corner of the net. The goal will come to much relief of the player and the Manchester United supporters after his stuttered start to the new season. He will have put himself into the manager’s plans to face Belarus on Tuesday evening to get their Russia 2018 qualification hopes started with a bang.

Next Match: Belarus – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Tuesday 6th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Paul Pogba – Italy 1-3 France

Manchester United’s world record signing Paul Pogba played 90 minutes in the 3-1 victory over Italy on Thursday evening. The Frenchman assisted for United teammate Anthony Martial in the 17th minute of the match with a sublime through ball, with Martial tucking it past Buffon to take his country 1-0 up, scoring his first goal for France. With France 2-1 up and cruising after a second scored by Olivier Giroud four minutes after Martial’s goal, assisted by Layvin Kurzawa, France made some changes to test the squad depth with them looking to qualify for Russia 2018 after their heartbreak in the European Championships in the summer. Pogba played well, doing what he does best, something he was criticised for during the summer, despite him playing well for much of the tournament. The Frenchman was again the provider for the third goal, nine minutes from time and Kurzawa the goalscorer and France being home and dry against the Italian side. Paul Pogba will most likely start against Belarus on Tuesday, a match which will mean more than this one.

Next Match: Belarus – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Tuesday 6th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Daley Blind – Netherlands 1-2 Greece

Daley Blind played 90 minutes in the 2-1 defeat to Greece in their friendly on Thursday evening. The Dutchman started in the centre of defence, just like he has for Manchester United last season and the start of the current season. In the 14th minute of the match, the home side took the lead through Georginio Wijnaldum after Greece gave the ball away in a dangerous position, with the Netherlands taking advantage and going 1-0 to the good. The lead was short-lived as Konstantinos Mitroglou, assisted by Vassilis Torosidis  equalised 15 minutes later. Blind will not have been happy with his teammates to concede that goal, which could have been countered. The home side had a few chances, which should have been taken, with Wesley Sneijder and Vincent Janssen. Greece took the lead in the 74th minute through Giannis Gianniotas. The home side was beaten with few chances coming after the second Greece goal, but that will not stop them in their attempts to get the better of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-less Sweden on Tuesday, which could get their aims of qualification for Russia 2018 started.

Next Match: Sweden – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Tuesday 6th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Antonio Valencia – Ecuador 0-3 Brazil

Antonio Valencia was missing from the squad in the 2-0 defeat to Brazil in their FIFA World Cup qualifier on Thursday evening. The only goal of the match came in the 72nd minute of the match after Brazil was awarded a penalty for a foul in the box. Neymar stepped up to put his side ahead just weeks after winning a gold medal in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This was Brazil’s second win in eight World Cup qualification matches. Ecuador had a player sent off in the 76th minute, and despite the fact they were down to ten men and 1-0 down, they were playing well. Brazil struck against through Gabriel Jesus, assisted by Marcelo. Gabriel Jesus scored again in the closing minutes of the match, with an assist by Neymar. Ecuador needs to ensure they beat Peru on Wednesday in their next qualification match or it could possibly put them out of the race to earn a place at the World Cup in Russia, although there are plenty of matches to play yet.

Next Match: Peru – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Wednesday 7th September 2016, KO 03:15 BST

copyright: JW