Manchester United won their first game in three matches as they beat Lens, 3-1 at Old Trafford in their penultimate pre-season fixture.
Manchester United‘s latest signing Rasmus Højlund was unveiled ahead of the kick-off and he was welcomed amid rapturous applause and cheers from the crowd. The stunning reception set the mood for the rest of the afternoon.
Lens’ Florian Sotoca capitalised on a miss timed pass from Diogo Dalot and opened the scoring as he lofted the ball over André Onana, who was way out of his penalty box. United equalised and even took the lead, all within the first quarter of the second half. Casemiro also joined the scoresheet as he scored from a well-timed header to give United a 3-1 lead.
Here are five talking points from the match against Lens:
#1 – Bruno Fernandes is the man
United’s captain, Bruno was simply at his best on the pitch. The Portuguese single-handedly turned defence into attack with a stunning pass to Alejandro Garnacho at the start of the first half.
The midfielder flaunted his exceptional passing skills by driving countless balls forward, especially to Garnacho on the left-hand side of the pitch.
Besides, his vision and passing, Fernandes did his job in pressing the opposition team too. At times, the 28-year-old contributed to the defence as well.
#2 – Alejandro Garnacho impresses on the left wing
United’s golden ball was exceptional on the left side of the pitch. The teenager is slowly turning into a 1v1 specialist and on numerous occasions, he showed why is really good at it.
Finding himself at the receiving end of a couple of Fernandes’ passes, Garnacho sprinted along the left side, drawing the opposition defenders towards him. He was unlucky to not get himself an assist after Mason Mount squandered off an easy chance in the first half.
The 19-year-old has also improved his positional awareness as in the 25th minute, he intercepted a ball from his own half and came very close to scoring for United.
He finally got his much-deserved assist in the opening quarter of the second half, guiding Antony to score a goal.
#3 – Just another day at the office for Casemiro
The Brazilian midfielder showed once again what United had been missing all these years. Casemiro provided an excellent shield to United’s defence and on many occasions won the ball by tackling his way in.
At the start of the first half, a strong tackle from Casemiro saw Fernandes send across a stunning pass to Garnacho. In the 32nd minute, the Brazilian made another brilliant tackle right in the middle of the penalty box to avert any potential danger.
The veteran also found himself on the scoring sheet as he scored a stunning header from a second-half free kick.
#4 – Marcus Rashford returns to scoring goals
Much to United fans’ delight, Marcus Rashford returned to the scoresheet once again. The pacey winger had a quiet first half but drastically improved his performance in the latter half as he returned with a goal to his name.
The 25-year-old equalized for his team in the first few minutes of the second half and played a pivotal role in United’s second. His sublime touch helped him to pass to Garnacho, who utilized his pace and free space ahead of him to assist Antony.
#5 – Mason Mount needs to step his game
United’s summer signing from Chelsea, Mount has just done well enough to not attract major criticisms of himself. However, the midfielder has to step up his game if he intends to lay an impact on the team.
Mount was very close to scoring his maiden goal for United but embarrassingly fumbled as he was ready to fire up his shot. Minutes later he had another chance but failed to find the back of the net.
United’s No. 7 was also entirely overshadowed by Fernandes and Casemiro in the heart of the midfield. However, it is highly unlikely that he will lose his place in the starting 11 just now, the Englishman needs to find his lucky boots to justify his price tag.
Besides the significant points of the game, there are a few more issues that need to be mentioned.
United’s defence also put up a much better performance in the match, especially in the second half. However, it is still a close but no cigar scenario, as they were off to a shaky start in the first half which actually led to Lens scoring their only goal.
Andre Onana played out to his strengths and showed he was bought to replace De Gea. Martinez led from the back, was phenomenal in the back, complementing Raphael Varane really well, as the duo combated Lens’ several attacks.
With just one match to go, it is expected that Erik Ten Hag will field a different starting 11 on the pitch. Erik Ten Hag’s men will now travel to Dublin where they will take on Athletic Bilbao, in their last match of their pre-season.
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