DUBLIN, Sporting Alert — Manchester United closed out their 2017 pre-season schedule with a promising 2-1 victory over Sampdoria at the Aviva Stadium here in Dublin, Ireland, on Wednesday.

Dennis Praet cancelled out Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s first-half opener, but substitute Juan Mata fired home the winner nine minutes from time.

Jose Mourinho started the game with a 5-3-2 formation with all three of his summer recruits, including the recently acquired Nemanja Matic in the starting lineup.

The Red Devils began brightly and deservingly got on the score sheet when Mkhitaryan broke the deadlock in the 10th minute.

Seconds after denying Sampdoria the go-ahead go after Daley Blind played an awful back pass to David De Gea, which almost found the back of the net, Manchester United punished the Serie A side on the counter.

Manchester United survived a Sampdoria point-blank aim from inside the box, which led to Antonio Valencia leading a rapid counter attack down the right.

The right-back then touched it to Mkhitaryan, who quickly switched the ball out to Matteo Darmian on the left.

The Italian then put the ball on a plate for Mkhitaryan to head home from six-yards out.

Mourinho made a number of changes in the second half and it allowed Sampdoria to build confidence.

The Italian side grabbed an equaliser with a well placed Praet shot from the highly-rated Belgian midfielder which went in low past De Gea.

Mourinho’s men were made to sweat, but they got the job done after playmaker Mata finished lovely with his left foot, following a cross from Anthony Martial on the left side.

Mata said: “I had a little problem but I’m happy to be back & to get a run out ahead of next week. Our minds are already on the Super Cup.”

Meanwhile, Mourinho made his assessment: “As I was expecting, Sampdoria was perfect – consistent, good tactically.

“They played for a result, they are clever technically and know how to play. Now we have two days off for the boys after a long time since we started and, next week, the serious stuff with the Super Cup and the first Premier League match.”

Mourinho also spoke about Matic debut after the Serbian was handed his first Manchester United appearance days after making the switch from Chelsea to Old Trafford.

“The way he plays, he uses his brain but of course he needs physicality to be on top of his game,” he boss noted.

“So he needs time but his experience, intelligence and genius in the way he thinks about football will help him to be ready sooner rather than later.

“That’s why he coped well with 45 minutes today. He makes everything so simple and is fantastic in his position.”


Starting XI: De Gea, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind, Valencia, Matic, A. Pereira, Pogba, Darmian, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku. Subs: J. Pereira, Bailly, Fosu-Mensah, Jones, Tuanzebe, Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, McTominay, Mata, Martial, Rashford.


Starting XI: Puggioni, Regini, Silvestre, Pavlovic, Sala, Barreto, Torreira, Linetty, Praet, Quagliarella, Caprari. Subs: Tozzo, Simic, Dudo, Djuricic, Alvarez, Verre, Leverbe, Bereszynski, Capezzi, Murru, Bonazzoli, Kownacki.


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