Manchester United drew to newly promoted side Brentford in their third pre-season game. Anthony Elanga opened the scoring after twelve minutes only for a wonderful goal for Brentford from midfielder Shandon Baptiste leveled the game into halftime. Andreas Pereira rocket of a volley gave United back the lead only for a mistake from Diogo Dalot to be capitalized by Brentford winger Bryan Mbeumo. A really enjoyable game from both teams ended as a 2-2 draw,
Story of the game
It felt like it was a Premier League game, and it might as well have been, as both teams came out with good intensity and the intention of putting on a good show for the 30,000ish fans that were allowed in Old Trafford, this resulted in a goal for either team in the space of 8 minutes. First came United’s goal, courtesy of Elanga, who has been so impressive all pre-season.
From the looks of it, United lined up and approached the game with attacking intent about their play this was shown in the formation which looked liked the reported 4-3-3 that Ole Gunnar Solskjær was planning to start the season. From the offset there was an evident threat from the left side of United attacks with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata and this was shown in the first minute of the game when Lingard had a curling effort saved by David Raya.
The deadlock was broken on the 12th minute, it was nice build up from United and Andreas Pereira was in the heart of it all kicking the ball out to wide to the right hand side, Aaron Wan-Bissaka controlled the ball and crossed in a delightful ball for Elanga to smash it first time into the bottom right corner to give United the lead. Anthony Elanga certainly seems to have the goal scorer’s habit of finding himself in good positions to get chances.Embed from Getty Images
Four minutes later it was Pereira who was in involved in United attacking play again, playing a chipped ball to Mason Greenwood only for Mason to be fouled on the edge of the ball and won a free kick. The Brazilian took the free kick and his shot was blocked by the Brentford wall.
However with all United’s dominance for the opening 20 minutes. It was Brentford who scored the next goal and it was a left footed rocket from Shandon Baptiste into the top left corner. It was a poor corner from Brentford which was even more poorly cleared by United with Nemanja Matić header falling to the left foot of Baptiste and smacked into the back of the net.
Brandon Williams came close to giving Unite back their lead on the 28th minute with a curling shot going just wide from the post after being played in by Greenwood.
Towards the end of the half, Aaron Wan-Bissaka went on a surging run from his own half to lead an explosive counter attack, he then released it to Elanga but the Swede went to wide with the ball and cut it backed for Lingard only for the 28-year-old shot to be slashed wide, who could’ve probably took another touch to out him in a better shooting position.
Ole only made one half time change, taking off Brandon Williams and bring on the returning Diogo Dalot who impressed out on loan at AC Milan and came on to play in a unorthodox inverted wingback role – a position he excelled in last season with Milan.
What came next was stunning. Andreas Pereira volleyed an unbelievable strike in from the edge of the box into the top right corner taking a clip off the crossbar as it goes in. Pereira isn’t a stranger when it comes to scoring wonder goals in pre season and I think we can say that’s the goal of (pre) season.Embed from Getty Images
Solskjær filtered his changes throughout the match, bringing on Daniel James, Facundo Pellistri and James Garner to get a half and hour run out and Donny van de Beek was a notable name to come off the bench, coming on to get his first minutes of pre season after recovering from his injury while wearing the armband for the remainder of the match.
Diogo Dalot found himself in trouble when he failed to cut out a through ball for the surprising late Brentford sub Bryan Mbeumo, who took advantage of the Portuguese mishap and he controlled well, then found the bottom left corner with a curling effort.
Just like the Queens Park Rangers game on the weekend, United finished the game with a younger team than they started with and the United young lads continued to push for a winner. Hannibal Mejbri was close to doing just that very when he came off the bench, as he was put through on goal but the physicality of the Brentford defender got the better of him with his power outmuscling Hannibal.
The match finished 2-2 on the night, which United can feel disappointed with the result. With Ole Gunnar Solskjær men failing to gain a real control on the game and there was a clear and evident lack of cutting edge especially from the forward players. Brentford displayed good football in periods of game and the game will give them optimism going into their debut season in the Premier League.
“It’s only pre-season”
United have now played 3 games this pre-season (W1, D1, L1), and if there is anything we’ve learned over the years is to not make subjective opinions over these games. There have been positives to take from this game and the pre-season period overall. Elanga showed up today just like he has in the last 2 games, and Facundo Pellistri was a threat and looked particularly sharp coming off the bench. We can say the same thing for Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire, who proved why so many people rate them highly. This game was an improvement from the shock loss to QPR and it was against a far more technically proficient team.
With a game against Preston North End F.C. on Saturday, Solskjær will expect to buld on this performance and hope to get more from his somewhat misfiring frontline, but hopefully some of these younger players will continue to show their talents as the new season nears.