|Photo by The Evening Standard|
Manchester United’s tour of Australia and Asia has come to its conclusion on Thursday afternoon with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Premier League rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.
In what ended up being a tale of two halves, United continued to demonstrate the way in which the team will try to play under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the upcoming season. The Reds managed to control the proceedings with intense high pressing and ball retention in the first half, while struggling a bit after the break with a completely new XI taking to the field.
Solskjaer’s men could have been ahead by a couple before the interval, with Anthony Martial hitting the post early, and Paul Pogba’s long range effort flying just around the outside of the Spurs post.
The deadlock in the first half was opened by the aforementioned Martial, who once again enjoyed a decent game as the designated no. 9. The Frenchman was slotted into the box with a lovely through ball from Andreas Pereira, before managing to squeeze the ball past the Spurs keeper with a low driven shot at the near post.
With the constant saga surrounding the future of Romelu Lukaku, it is an encouraging sight to see Martial and Marcus Rashford find their feet in the no. 9 role, particularly if United fail to find a replacement for the Belgian before the transfer window slams shut in two weeks.
The second half was far less promising than the first, with Spurs taking over the game and creating some half chances of their own. The lack of energy, which was brought into the midfield in abundance by Scott McTominay, Pogba, and Pereira in the first half, was especially evident, with United struggling to control the middle of the park with Nemanja Matic and Fred in charge.
Spurs eventually managed to find the equaliser through some neat footwork, followed by an opportunistic distance snapshot from Lucas Moura, which deflected off Luke Shaw and rolled into Sergio Romero’s net.
After the equaliser, and with the clock running down, United seemed to find their second wind — Rashford and Angel Gomes in particular, with the latter managing to find the winner in the 80th minute.
Having impressed throughout the first part of United’s tour, the young playmaker finally opened his United senior scoring account after a cute one-two with Juan Mata, before neatly placing a low shot into the bottom corner.
A fun fact after that goal was that all nine goals which United have scored on the pre-season tour so far have been either scored or assisted by academy graduates.
And as the Far East portion of the tour has come to a close, there are plenty of on-field positives to take back to Europe for the final two preparation games against Kristiansund and AC Milan.