Manchester United ended their tour of Australia with a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa at the Optus Stadium in Perth.
Despite heavy rain and a late pitch inspection, Manchester United’s game against Aston Villa went ahead. The condition of the pitch will have been a worry for both sides with Crystal Palace and Leeds playing on the make-shift, multi-purpose surface just last night.
United made two changes from the team that started earlier this week against Crystal Palace with Luke Shaw and Donny van de Beek coming in for Tyrell Malacia and Scott McTominay, the latter not being risked despite training earlier today.
Both teams came into this game with a 100% record and neither side would preserve that after a late equaliser from Callum Chambers ensured Villa picked up a draw in what would prove to be a game of two halves.
It was evident right from the start that the pitch will play a big part in how this game will go, almost instantly cutting up in large sections.
An open first ten minutes saw Maguire go close from a corner and Fred fortunate not to give a penalty away at the other end. Cash and Sancho also had early sighters, the latter forcing a good save from Martinez.
Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa have earned a reputation this pre-season for being hard hitters and today was no different with John McGinn making his presence known mid-way through the first half, going through the back of Martial on halfway leaving the Frenchman in a heap.
United managed to settle into the game after a scrappy start and their attacks down the left finally paid dividends with Rashford slipping in Shaw on the overlap who found Sancho at the back post to volley home from close-range for his second goal on this pre-season tour.
It was no surprise that United’s goal came from the left, the right hand side was effectively non-existent in the first half with everything United did - good or bad - coming down the left through Shaw and Rashford.
Despite getting in good positions and great movement off the ball, Rashford proved that his decision-making still leaves much to be desired which no doubt Erik ten Hag will look to work on as the season progresses.
Just as the rain started to pour, Fred transformed into a prime Paul Scholes with a ball behind the Villa defence that United’s former number 18 would be proud of.
Jadon Sancho latched onto Fred’s pass and picked out Rashford in the middle whose miskick deflected past a hapless Martinez who could only watch the ball loop into the goal.
United went into the break 2-0 up and nobody could argue they weren't good value for it, with Villa hardly creating anything the entire half.
Manchester United remained unchanged for the second half whilst Aston Villa made 5 changes which seemed to give them a little more energy and purpose right from the start. Leon Bailey robbed Fred of the ball which led to Watkins firing narrowly wide from outside the area.
Shortly after that, Bailey made an impact again. He picked up the ball on the right wing and ran at Lindelöf, after a couple of step-overs he curled the ball into the far corner past De Gea to half the deficit to rubber stamp Villa’s good start to the half.
Seconds after the goal, McGinn continued the theme from the first half by hacking down Dalot and somehow avoiding the referee’s book again.
A fast paced start to the second half saw Villa primarily in control of the game with sustained pressure on United’s backline but it would be United who’d come closest to getting the fourth goal of the game. Dalot released Sancho down the right who slid the ball across the box looking for Martial only for Konsa to almost turn the ball into his own goal, forcing Olsen into a good save to keep the score at 2-1.
Leon Bailey continued his one-man quest to transform this game and was once again found in acres on the right side with Luke Shaw in no man's land. Bailey ran into the box, skilfully stepped past De Gea and if not for Maguire’s last-ditch block, the score would be level.
Aston Villa would make further changes whilst a few minutes later, Erik ten Hag would roll out a brand new XI for the last 25 minutes bar David De Gea with perhaps the most interesting change being Alex Telles taking up a position in midfield.
As often is the case with these friendlies and after a mass of changes, the game fell into a little bit of a lull although especially with Hannibal on the pitch, there was still an edge to the tie.
The game continued to fizzle out after the changes, not helped by the conditions and the pitch resembling your local Sunday League park but it was more minutes in the tank for the squad and valuable minutes for the likes of Zidane Iqbal who has impressed this pre-season.
There have been question marks over David De Gea’s ability to deal with high balls into the box and today was no different. When the game looked to be over and Manchester United leaving Australia with their 100% record intact, Leon Bailey’s corner found the head of Calum Chambers who nodded the ball past an onrushing De Gea with literally the last touch of the game.
Manchester United will now travel back to Europe ahead of their friendly in Oslo against Atletico Madrid next Saturday.
Manchester United line-up:
De Gea; Dalot (67), Maguire (67), Lindelöf (67), Shaw (67); van de Beek (67), Fred (67); Sancho (67), Fernandes (67), Rashford (67); Martial (67)
Substitutions - Heaton, Bishop, Kovar, Bailly (67), Fish, Laird, Malacia (67), Telles (67), Varane (67), Wan-Bissaka (67), Amad, Garner (67), Hannibal (67), Iqbal (67), Pellistri, Savage, Chong (67), Elanga (67), Garnacho
Aston Villa line-up:
Martinez (45); Cash (65), Carlos (65), Mings (45), Digne (65); J.Ramsey (45), Kamara (65), McGinn (65), Countinho (45); Watkins (65), Ings (45)
Substitutions - Olsen (45), Marschall, Konsa (45), Douglas Luiz (45), Sanson, Buendia (45), Chambers (65), Young (65), Kesler (65), Bailey (45), Archer (65), A.Ramsey, Iroegbunam (65), Feeney
Featured Image Credit: Manchester United
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