MOTM: Valencia, Matic and Mkhitaryan earn the plaudits in Sampdoria victory

Manchester United beat Sampdoria 2-1 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Wednesday evening. Jose Mourinho gave much of his squad a run out as he looking to assemble a side to take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia on Tuesday evening. Henrikh Mkhitaryan headed home the first goal from a Matteo Darmian assist nine minutes into the match which earlier could have gifted the Italian side a goal after Daley Blind’s back pass, which was saved by David De Gea, giving an indirect free-kick to Sampdoria, with United averting danger and breaking into attack, which created the goal through Antonio Valencia’s brilliance. The Italian side equalised just after the hour with Juan Mata, assisted by Anthony Martial, finding the winner nine minutes from time to earn the victory for United. Here are my Man of the Match contenders for the victory over Sampdoria.

Antonio Valencia

The Ecuadorian right-back, who was playing as a wing back for much of the match, turned back the time and showed his attacking flair, which is why Jose Mourinho has ensured the player will remain at the club for much longer. Valencia has a great season under Louis van Gaal and an even better season under Mourinho in his debut campaign and this season could be his best yet. Valencia played defence into attack after Blind’s error, getting forward with a burst of speed, crossing the ball to Darmian on the other flank, who then set up Mkhitaryan to score United first goal of the match. Valencia played well throughout the match, which was great to see. He will be one of the names on the team sheet in Skopje next week – Mourinho will have a headache to fill in the rest of his squad with many showing their abilities against the Italian side in Dublin.

Nemanja Matic

It was the new Serbian midfielder’s debut for United in Dublin and despite only playing 45 minutes, he showed exactly why Mourinho wanted him. Michael Carrick was the clubs only defensive midfielder until Matic’s arrival from Chelsea at the start of the week. Matic looked fit, considering he had not played a match this pre-season but had trained on his own at Chelsea’s training ground, seemingly getting himself ready for his move to United so he can fit right into the team. 90 minutes against a team like Real Madrid will test Matic for the new season, exactly what Mourinho will be looking for from his £40 million signing. United seem to be ready for the new season, especially after playing seven pre-season matches, an eighth on the way in Macedonia before United contend with West Ham United at Old Trafford in their Premier League opener on Sunday week.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

The Armenian is really looking to prove himself after the first part of his debut season was not the best after his £26 million arrival from Borussia Dortmund last summer. Mkhitaryan took the time out to get up to speed, which he did when given the chance again. Scoring six goals in the UEFA Europa League, including the second goal in the final will have been a big boost for him but during pre-season, he has been the provider of a goal or two, also assisting. His header, assisted by Matteo Darmian was a good bit of play from Mkhitaryan, who seems to now understand what he is expected to do during his Manchester United career. The Premier League, providing his form continues, could well see the arrival of the Armenian this season, who is looking brilliant on and off the ball and predatory in the goal scoring zones on the pitch.


Manchester United look to be in much better shape this summer with Jose Mourinho making three new additions with Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku, and Nemanja Matic to reinforce his side. There could be departures this summer, both permanent and on a loan basis, which will be good for players. Mourinho seems to have his side ready for their first test of the new season, Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup with the Europa League holders pitted against the La Liga and Champions League holders for the bragging rights of Europe. United last won that cup in 1991, also playing in it in 1999 and 2008, losing both times. Mourinho will be looking to get another victory over Real Madrid this summer, winning on penalties in the International Champions Cup match, the fourth match of the clubs pre-season tour of the United States of America. Sampdoria gave United a good game, gave them something to work for; the win and also played a part in the manager readying his squad for the new season.

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

Starting XI: Nemanja Matic makes his debut; Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan lead the line

Manchester United face Serie A side Sampdoria in their final pre-season match of the summer, played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. United have beaten LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Manchester City, Real Madrid (on penalties) and Valerenga – beaten once by Barcelona during their pre-season tour of the summer so far. United have added three players to their squad this summer; Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic and still want to do business, both buying and selling, according to reports. Jose Mourinho will be readying his side for the first competitive match of the summer; the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in Skopje, Macedonia on Tuesday 8th August 2017 ahead of the Premier League opener – West Ham United at Old Trafford on Sunday 13th August 2017.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Lindelof, Smalling, Blind;

Valencia, Matic, A. Pereira, Pogba, Darmian;

Mkhitaryan, Lukaku


J. Pereira; Bailly, Fosu-Mensah, Jones, Tuanzebe; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, McTominay, Mata; Martial, Rashford

United and Sampdoria have not faced each other before, so with Mourinho’s side going against Marco Giampaolo’s side, they face the unknown, which is a good thing in their summer preparations ahead of the new season. Mourinho will be looking to get his team hitting the ground running this season like they did last season, that soon turned sour four matches into the season. If United can find a great start to the season, which could happen with yet another trophy opportunity next Tuesday, Mourinho and his side will be happy and ready to face West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday week.

Preview: Mourinho seeking the final balance in his Manchester United squad before their second Real Madrid test

Manchester United -v- Sampdoria

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland

Wednesday 2nd August 2017; KO 19:45 BST

Live on MUTV in the United Kingdom

Manchester United head to Dublin, Ireland on Wednesday to play their last pre-season match of the summer, this time pitted against Serie A side Sampdoria. United have played six matches this summer so far, beating LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Manchester City, Real Madrid (on penalties) and Valerenga. Jose Mourinho’s side have lost once, a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona. The Portuguese manager will be looking to get everything right in this match as he focuses on the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid in less than a week’s time in Skopje, Macedonia – the first competitive match of the season. Five days later United will welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford for the first Premier League match of the new season, with Mourinho’s United side expected to rise to the challenge this season, taking on the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal to compete for the Premier League title, after four years sitting out.

Sampdoria have played in the Serie A for six successive seasons, finished tenth in the Italian top-flight last season with manager Marco Giampaolo looking to improve on that this season. Playing against a Manchester United team who have raised their game in a year will be a good test for them. The match will be a good test for United too, having to face the La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners next Tuesday, which will be a much bigger test than their pre-season 1-1 draw with United winning 2-1 on penalties. This will also be the first time Sergio Romero comes up against his old side having spent four years with the club, albeit as their number two goalkeeper before he joined the club in the summer of 2015.

Mourinho’s new signing, Nemanja Matic will be eligible to play his first match in a United shirt, fitness may limit his time although he has been training on his own at Chelsea, not taking part in their pre-season tour of China and Singapore this summer. United’s supporters will be looking forward to seeing their new signing play for the club, which could come at some point in the match. Matic could start, which would not be a shock. He seems to have settled in at the club already, spending just over 24 hours at the club since his signing was confirmed. Mourinho is now looking for an attacking midfielder, one who is familiar in the wing positions, that elusive fourth signing might arrive before the summer transfer window closes, but Mourinho and United’s supporters will be happy a defensive midfielder has been signed.

Team News: Nemanja Matic to start against Sampdoria?

Jose Mourinho has nothing to worry about ahead of his last pre-season match of the summer. No more injuries have affected the squad with both Ander Herrera and Juan Mata returning in the 3-0 victory over Valerenga in Oslo on Sunday. Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, and Marcos Rojo remain on the sidelines through injury and are tipped to be back in September, October, and December respectively. Matic will strengthen United midfield this season, leaving less pressure on United captain Michael Carrick, who turned 36 last week. Matic will provide cover for the defence, also allowing both Herrera and Paul Pogba to do their thing in midfield, which should help United’s attacking players create and score goals. Perhaps Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Axel Tuanzebe, Demetri Mitchell and the scorer of United’s third goal in Norway, Scott McTominay will be given some time on the pitch, some of them in contention to play a part against Real Madrid next week.

Predicted Starting XI:

Match Prediction:

Manchester United 3-1 Sampdoria

copyright: JW