Solskjaer's boys on song at National Stadium
|MANCHESTER UNITED||INTER MILAN|
|(Mason Greenwood 76)|
Singapore’s National Stadium was transformed into the famous Theatre of Dreams for 90 minutes on Saturday (July 20) as Manchester United pipped Inter Milan 1-0 in front of a record crowd of 52,897 supporters.
While it was not quite goals galore, United fans and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would have been elated with a first-hand glimpse of the Red Devils’ bright future.
As far as they were concerned, Ole was at the wheel and the boys were in the groove.
Youth academy product and the Man-of-the-Match, Mason Greenwood, 17, scored their winning goal and young summer acquisition Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 21, turned in a supreme performance at right-back.
The match, part of the 2019 International Champions Cup (ICC) pre-season tournament, was watched by a sea of red at the stadium that looked fit for a National Day Parade. The 52,897 turnout also eclipsed the previous record of 52,107 when Arsenal beat Everton 3-1 at the 2015 Barclays Asia Trophy.
Before he was replaced in the 62nd minute, Wan-Bissaka looked the part, with fans cheering his every tackle or rampaging run.
In fact, he was the only player to hear his name chanted, with the crowd happy to bellow out “Bissaka! Bissaka!” every time the £50-million (S$85.8m) signing won the ball.
In the 55th minute, his crunching tackle to win the ball off Dalbert resulted in the crowd getting on their feet to sing praises of his faultless display.
If there were any doubts from fans as to why he became the most expensive defender in the club’s history, those were erased on Saturday.
Greenwood was another who had the United faithful cheering after coming on in the 62nd minute, when Solskjaer made a raft of substitutions taking off the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Wan-Bissaka.
The winning goal came when Ashley Young’s free-kick was parried away by Inter Milan goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
Greenwood latched onto the ball and cut past a defender before lashing an unstoppable left-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
It proved to be the only goal of the night in which United were unable to turn domination into victory, with the likes of Pogba, Luke Shaw and Daniel James all drawing saves from the Inter custodian. Nemanja Matic had also hit the post.
This was United’s third pre-season victory in as many games, with seven goals scored and none conceded.
In the Red Devils’ previous games, they ran out 2-0 and 4-0 winners over Australian side Perth Glory and English Championship team Leeds United respectively.
With the exception of Romelu Lukaku, who has yet to feature in a pre-season match and has been strongly linked with a move to Inter, United fans were able to catch all their stars that had travelled here, in action.
And they can look forward to a future that promises much.
The Singapore leg of the ICC will conclude on Sunday night when Tottenham Hotspur face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.
Manchester United: David de Gea (Sergio Romero 62), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Diogo Dalot 62), Axel Tuanzebe (Eric Bailly 62), Victor Lindelof (Phil Jones 57), Luke Shaw (Ashley Young 62), Nemanja Matic (Scott McTominay 62), Paul Pogba (Andreas Pereira 62), Jesse Lingard (Juan Mata 62), Daniel James (Tahith Chong 62, Angel Gomes 90), Anthony Martial (Fred 62), Marcus Rashford (Mason Greenwood 62)
Inter Milan: Samir Handanovic, Danilo D’Ambrosio, Stefan de Vrij (Andrea Ranocchia 72), Milan Skriniar, Dalbert (Joao Mario 72), Stefano Sensi (Lorenzo Pirola 72), Marcelo Brozovic (Facundo Colidio 83), Roberto Gagliardini (Nicolo Barella 72), Antonio Candreva (Borja Valero 83), Sebastiano Esposito (Lucien Agoume 83), Samuele Longo (Ivan Perisic 45)