Real Salt Lake 1 Manchester United 2: Lukaku opens his account as Valencia sees red Football | Nigeria sports news, transfers & gossips

Real Salt Lake 1 Manchester United 2: Lukaku opens his account as Valencia sees red

Romelu Lukaku scored his first Manchester United goal as the Premier League giants made it two wins from two pre-season matches after overcoming Real Salt Lake 2-1.

A £75million signing from Everton, Lukaku debuted in the 5-2 victory against LA Galaxy last week, but the Belgium striker opened his account in Salt Lake on Monday.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan slotted the ball across to Lukaku, who saw off two defenders and rounded the goalkeeper before steadying himself and firing a 39th-minute strike into the net.

It was not all smooth sailing for United, who had substitute Antonio Valencia sent off with 22 minutes remaining after RSL put Jose Mourinho’s men on the backfoot for much of the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Phil Jones and United struggled to cope with RSL’s pace as Luis Silva gave the hosts a surprise 23rd-minute lead, but Mkhitaryan restored parity six minutes later and the Armenian star turned provider for Lukaku before half-time.

Attention will now turn to Sunday’s International Champions Cup clash against LaLiga and Champions League titleholders Real Madrid in Santa Clara.

United reverted to a back four for in Salt Lake, after deploying a 3-5-2 formation against the Galaxy. New signing Victor Lindelof came into the starting XI to partner Jones – who retained his position – as Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Daley Blind occupied the full-back positions. Joel Pereira replaced goalkeeper David de Gea, while Paul Pogba, Lukaku and Mkhitaryan were included in the line-up.

Aside from Scott McTominay’s early attempt, which flashed just wide of the post, it was a difficult start for United. Led by Silva and Joao Plata, RSL’s pace down the flanks caused problems, with young keeper Pereira kept busy.

If not for Jesse Lingard’s goal-saving tackle, it would have been 1-0 RSL after the United attacker thwarted Plata just as he was about to slot the ball past Pereira in the 19th minute.

RSL – ninth in the 11-team Western Conference and four points adrift of the MLS play-off positions – did get the goal they deserved four minutes later, when a perfectly-weighted through ball found Silva, who outpaced Jones with ease and poked the ball beyond Pereira.

That sparked United into action as Mkhitaryan equalised just shy of the half-hour mark. Lukaku linked up with Lingard and the Englishman played a neat one-two before teeing up Mkhitaryan for the finish.

Jones and his partners in defence were provided some relief when RSL replaced their entire XI after 30 minutes.

And United benefited from the wholesale changes six minutes before the break – Lukaku breaking the offside trap, beating two defenders, rounding Rimando and firing the ball into the net.

As expected, United fielded a completely different XI in the second half, with Sergio Romero, Matteo Darmian, Valencia, Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Andreas Pereira, Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford introduced.

The second 45 minutes was not as free-flowing and gave Mourinho headaches more than anything else.

First, Mata hobbled off the ground due to a leg injury after signalling to the bench before the hour-mark – replaced by Demetri Mitchel.

Valencia was then bizarrely sent off for a late tackle from behind on Sebastian Saucedo. The referee initially awarded a foul and spoke to the United full-back before brandishing a red card.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, United should have sealed the win in the 78th minute, but Smalling headed over the crossbar with an empty net at his mercy.


Ajike is one of Nigeria's top Sportscasters with over 15 years of experience in writing and talking Sports.

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