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Manchester United 1-1 Rayo Vallecano: Alejandro Garnacho Shines As Cristiano Ronaldo Returns

Dylan Penketh

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Manchester United 1-1 Rayo Vallecano: Alejandro Garnacho Shines As Cristiano Ronaldo Returns

Manchester United have rounded up their pre-season tour against Rayo Vallecano, with seven days until their Premier League opener against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The fixture has come as the last of six pre-season friendlies and one behind closed-doors fixture against Wrexham.

The club have taken on Liverpool, Melbourne Victory, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Atletico Madrid during Tour 2022, winning three, drawing one and losing one.

Manchester United's stronger XI took on Atleti on Saturday in Oslo, Norway, with a more "second string" side taking on Rayo Vallecano.

However, due to a mixture of illness and lack of match fitness, players who would usually assume positions in the stronger XI, such as Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, instead found themselves on the Old Trafford turf.

A lively opening half saw excitement ring around Old Trafford, despite the deadlock remaining unbroken. Goals in the second half saw the sides come away with one apiece, with many youngsters getting Manchester United minutes under Erik ten Hag.

First Half

The first 45 minutes of Manchester United's first match back at Old Trafford started very lively, with both sides creating chances.

Tom Heaton was called into action within the opening 10 seconds with a great save after Laird was caught sleeping.

Ten Hag, who was suited up for his unofficial Old Trafford debut, was incredibly vocal on the touch line, shouting instructions to the youngest of the players on the field.

Garnacho, Laird & Chong were incredibly active on the wings during the opening minutes, and the first big chance of the game fell to Ronaldo around the 11 minute mark, who skied a shot from a tight-ish angle around eight yards from goal.

Alejandro Garnacho at Old Trafford against Rayo Vallecano. (Man Utd)
Alejandro Garnacho at Old Trafford against Rayo Vallecano. (Man Utd)

At around 15 minutes, Garnacho found Chong on the right hand edge of the area, but his shot was too weak and straight at the keeper.

James Garner gave fans a scare shortly after, being dispossessed in United's area, however fortunately Rayo Vallecano could not capitalise.

Chong had a perfect chance handed to him on a place after the Vallecano keeper passed the ball straight to him, but the Dutchman could not capitalise the chance fizzled away.

Falcao, on his return to Old Trafford, had his first sniff on goal after 20 minutes, however was brilliantly blocked by debutant Lisandro Martinez before he could get his shot away.

Lisandro Martinez at Old Trafford in pre-season. (Man Utd)
Lisandro Martinez at Old Trafford in pre-season. (Man Utd)

As the game went on, Cristiano Ronaldo became more and more involved in build up, attempting several great passes into Garnacho, Van de Beek and Eriksen.

The match settled down towards the end of the first half, with Garnacho by far the most exciting man of the first 45 minutes.

Second Half

The second half saw goals finally arrive at Old Trafford, with young Ivorian Amad replacing Ronaldo up front.

He had an imitate impact on the game, slotting in a rebound for the game's first goal after Lopez spilled a low and strong shot from Telles.

Falcao minutes after curled a lovely shot beyond Tom Heaton, however his shot ricocheted off the bar.

Vallecano got themselves level 12 minutes into the half after Heaton pushed a well saved effort into the path of Alvaro Garcia, who tapped the ball into an empty net.

Alex Telles may well have done much better to close down the initial shot leading to the goal.

At the 60 minute mark, Eriksen and Martinez made way for Eric Bailly and Hannibal Mejbri.

Amad continued to cause chaos for Vallecano, winning a free kick on the edge of the area after nutmegging Suarez, who was attempting to shield the ball out of play.

Van de Beek took the free kick, however sliced the effort horribly as it flew into row Z.

Star of the day Garnacho was replaced after 73 minutes in the form of Shola Shoretire, with Zidane Iqbal also coming on for James Garner.

Iqbal took a shot from around 25-yards out after a great break from Laird saw the ball drop for the academy graduate, however the strike flew just wide.

One final change saw youngster Hansen-Aaroen replacing Chong, and the young Norwegian midfielder got his first taste of Old Trafford.

He set up a shot outside the area for Telles in the closing stages after a good interchanging of passing between himself, Shoretire and Hannibal, but the Brazilian's shot flew over the bar.

James Garner against Rayo Vallecano. (Man Utd)
James Garner against Rayo Vallecano. (Man Utd)

With Manchester United having concluded their pre-season tour, Erik ten Hag will now turn his focus towards the Brighton fixture.

The players have given him and his staff plenty to think about as to who will start the club's opening fixture of the Premier League season.

Featured Image Credit: Manchester United

Topics: Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag, Alejandro Garnacho, Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen, Cristiano Ronaldo, Amad Diallo

Dylan Penketh
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