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Man Utd 2-1 RSL: Talking points

18 July 2017 National Sport


Last Updated: 18/07/17 8:02am

Jose Mourinho was frustrated by Antonio Valencia's red card

Jose Mourinho was frustrated by Antonio Valencia’s red card

Romelu Lukaku’s first goal, Antonio Valencia’s red card, Juan Mata’s injury…We look at the talking points from .

Lukaku off the mark

Having watched from the bench as Marcus Rashford scored twice in United’s pre-season opener against LA Galaxy, Lukaku was given his chance from the start against Real Salt Lake.

He was only involved fleetingly in the early stages, almost meeting a cross from Timothy Fosu-Mensah and then powering a shot at the goalkeeper from around 25 yards.

Romelu Lukaku scored his first Manchester United goal

Romelu Lukaku scored his first Manchester United goal

Romelu Lukaku scored his first Manchester United goal

But, after failing to take a chance against Galaxy, he opened his United account in the 38th minute at the Rio Tinto Stadium.

The first touch to control Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s pass into the middle was not his best, but he kept his composure and rounded the keeper before finishing.

Having led the line on his own for most of the 45 minutes in Utah, it will be intriguing to see how Lukaku fares when he is played with Rashford.

Valencia sees red

Valencia’s 68th-minute red card was unusual, not only because it came in a friendly, but because Jose Mourinho was apparently asked by the referee if he wanted to take his captain off before he was sent off for a swiping tackle from behind on Sebastian Saucedo.

“The delay was because the referee asked me to change the player and I didn’t,” said Mourinho. “Because I don’t agree with the card. Because Saucedo was really aggressive during all of the second half, with what happened to Mata and some other actions where it was a bit dangerous, which I understand.

“Young people, enthusiasm playing against Manchester United, but you come with the mentality of a friendly match and in the end you find yourself in a different mentality.”

Valencia will not serve a suspension for the red card, which came just 23 minutes after his half-time introduction.

Mata forced off

Even before Valencia’s dismissal there had been a few more hard tackles in the second half than in the first.

One of them forced Mata off the pitch, just 15 minutes after he had come on at the break.

Juan Mata went down with an injury

Juan Mata went down with an injury

Juan Mata went down with an injury

The Spaniard was left holding his ankle after being taken out by Saucedo, and signalled to the bench that he wanted to come off.

“Mata has a big ankle but I hope it is nothing important,” said Mourinho afterwards. “A few days, a week, probably.”

Mixed bag in defence

Having started with three at the back against LA Galaxy, United this time went with a back four of Fosu-Mensah, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Daley Blind.

They looked far from solid in the opening half an hour as Real Salt Lake overran the midfield and created several good opportunities before scoring.

How United lined up

Man Utd first-half team: J Pereira, Jones, Lindelof, Blind, Fosu-Mensah, McTominay, Carrick, Pogba, Lingard, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku.
Man Utd second-half team: Romero, Valencia, Bailly, Darmian, Smalling, Herrera, Fellaini, Martial, Pereira, Mata, Rashford.

Jones looked as though he was beaten too easily for the goal by Luis Silva, who outpaced the defender and then held him off to finish past Joel Pereira.

Real Salt Lake also got joy down the right side against Blind as he lost out on a few occasions.

But there were positives on the other side as Fosu-Mensah was one of United’s better players in the first half, producing a solid defensive display and also getting forward well to support the attack.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah impressed for United

Timothy Fosu-Mensah impressed for United

Timothy Fosu-Mensah impressed for United

Lindelof also looked assured in the middle and composed when passing out of defence.

The defence did not have as much to do in the second half as Real Salt Lake’s threat diminished, but Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling allowed few opportunities for the hosts.

All change

Changing the entire team at half-time, as Manchester United did, might seem rather standard in pre-season these days, but Real Salt Lake went at least one step further.

With an MLS game against Portland Timbers 48 hours away, they played just 30 minutes with their starting XI before replacing everyone.

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke opted to make wholesale changes

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke opted to make wholesale changes

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke opted to make wholesale changes

There were more changes around the 70-minute mark as well, with five new players getting their chance to impress.

Considering how brightly Real Salt Lake started, it was a shame they had to keep an eye on their upcoming league match and make so many changes so early in the game.

It could, otherwise, have been an even closer contest.


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