Teenager Mason Greenwood fired Manchester United to victory against Inter Milan on a night that saw Ashley Young subjected to loud and frequent jeers by fans in Singapore.
The build-up to Saturday’s International Champions Cup clash at the National Stadium has been dominated by the Serie A side’s public interest in Romelu Lukaku.
But as a knock ruled out the Belgium striker for a third straight friendly, 17-year-old Greenwood again underlined his quality by coming off the bench to seal Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United a 1-0 victory.
The forward also hit the bar after coming on with a third of the game remaining – one of 10 changes made at that stage in sweltering Singapore.
Young, who captained the side for the majority of last season, was another to be brought in and heard his named booed loudly when it was read out by the stadium announcer.
The 34-year-old continued to be jeered on a night that ended with United racking up their third pre-season win. A sea of red welcomed the sides at a sold-out National Stadium, where Solskjaer’s name echoed around the ground as United made a positive start.
Marcus Rashford started well and Luke Shaw went agonisingly close to opening the scoring with a fizzing, low drive.
Anthony Martial and Rashford were denied by Samir Handanovic as United continued to edge proceedings that included a water break on the half-hour mark.
Daniel James wasted a good chance and Martial had an attempt, with Danilo D’Ambrosio going closest for Inter as David De Gea, making his first appearance of the tour, flapped.
Martial got fans on their feet before Lingard saw a strike cleared off the line, while Nemanja Matic hit the post.
Pogba was impressing and Aaron Wan-Bissaka cleared off the line when Inter jolted into life, with former United target Ivan Perisic going close soon after.
Victor Lindelof was replaced by Phil Jones after appearing to pick up a slight hamstring issue and Solskjaer soon made sweeping changes.
Young was among those brought on and his named was booed when it was read out. The full-back continued to be jeered and the only respite appeared to come when he had a shot, including the free-kick that led to Greenwood’s second United goal.
Handanovic could only parry Young’s attempt, with the 17-year-old taking the loose ball and then a smart touch away from danger before firing home a lovely left-footed strike.
Greenwood soon saw an effort clip the top of the bar after meeting a cross from Tahith Chong, who was among numerous players getting rough treatment without protection.
Solskjaer did not look pleased on the touchline – unhappiness that only grew when Chong fell to the deck in pain after a few minutes.
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Manchester United maintained their winning streak in pre-season by beating Inter Milan 1-0 in Singapore.
The Red Devils dominated play in the first half but the match went into the break goalless.
After Jesse Lingard’s shot was blocked on the line and Nemanja Matic headed onto the upright, it was young Mason Greenwood who broke the deadlock with a sumptuous finish inside the box.
The United academy product would later hit the frame of the goal again as the Reds secured a narrow win.
Here, we look at the players who impressed and those who weren’t up to the mark.
Marcus Rashford has been pitted as United’s main man in attack for the upcoming season with Romelu Lukaku out of favour and possibly on the way out, but if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has his way, Anthony Martial will be a force to be reckoned with as well.
The immensely talented Frenchman has only shown glimpses of his vast potential but the United boss is certain he will come good this term after encouraging signs in pre-season. Seemingly buoyed by the praise from his manager, Martial was electric against Inter.
Even against a very deep-lying back-five, the 23-year-old looked lively and glided past players. His effort was the closest United came to a goal in the first half. After a neat exchange with Rashford, his chipped effort was well dealt with by Samir Handanovic.
His best moment though came soon after the restart when he bamboozled opponents in midfield before galloping towards the edge of the box and laying the ball off for Lingard whose shot was cleared off the line.
Speaking of prodigious forwards, United have a serious talent on their hands in Greenwood. The 17-year-old continues to impress at every opportunity and proved to be the match-winner in Singapore.
He made an instant impact on the game, running at defenders and creating openings although his first couple of dribbles got away from him. Comfortable staying inside the box or drifting wide, Greenwood was difficult to track.
His goal was outstanding. After Handanovic parried Ashley Young’s free-kick, Greenwood was a picture of composure when the loose ball fell to him. With several defenders between him and goal, he sold the first man a dummy, chopping onto his left foot before rocketing his finish into the far corner.
Moments later, his goal-poaching instincts were on display when he got in front of his marker and steered a well-worked Tahith Chong cross onto the crossbar on the volley.
TWO NOT SO GOOD
United remain in the market for a midfielder even though Paul Pogba looks as if he may stay put this season. That’s perhaps for the best given Fred isn’t showing promising signs.
There was one moment when he nutmegged an opponent in a tight space but apart from that his performance was pretty average – although it’s perhaps harsh to expect much from him on his first outing and he has not played a full part in pre-season due to getting married. His first involvement set the tone as he somehow passed the ball directly to an Inter player five yards away under no real pressure.
More loose touches and passes followed while he was largely anonymous whenever United broke forward. He’ll need to find his feet quickly.
He didn’t have a glaringly poor performance but Diogo Dalot should be concerned.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was again flawless at right-back and when he was replaced by Dalot, the gulf in class was palpable. Where Dalbert was regularly shut down by United’s summer signing, against Dalot he got a lot more joy and a couple of the Italian side’s best attacks came down that flank.
On the front foot, Dalot was aggressive with his positioning but when played into space, he couldn’t deliver a telling cross with every one of his efforts woefully over-hit.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is predicting much better performances from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial this season.
“Anthony, in the way that he works for the team. I think he’s always got the quality, talent, he’s going to score goals, and the work rate is improving, so, I expect him and Marcus(Rashford), two of them to be even better than last season.”
He also shared his thoughts on Romelu Lukaku’s situation ahead of the International Champions Cup on Friday.
He explained the striker, who is heavily linked to opponents Inter Milan, is unfit to play the match against the Serie A outift but remains a United player as of now.
Solskjaer also thinks the next season of the Premier League will be a “closer race” and there won’t be a repeat of the dominance of Liverpool and Manchester City.