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Man Utd held in pre-season opener

Man Utd held in pre-season opener
Juan Mata celebrates with his team-mates after scoring the equalizer during the opening pre-season match against Club America in Phoenix.
Phoenix, Jul 20 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 7/21/2018 12:36:58 AM IST
Manchester United were held 1-1 by Mexican side Club America in their opening pre-season match in Phoenix on Friday.
Missing many of their senior players due to World Cup participation, United hit the post through Juan Mata in the first half before Henry Martin gave Club America the lead with a fine header (60).
Mata then levelled for United (78), rebounding low after Ander Herrera’s header had hit the post, with youngster Tahith Chong impressing from the bench.
There were opportunities for both sides during a goalless first half, with Mata going closest for United, hitting the right-hand post from 15 yards with a low, left-footed effort through a crowded box.
Lee Grant was handed his Manchester United debut following his move from Stoke, and he made two good saves in quick succession, first low down to his right from Paul Aguilar, before stopping Osvaldo Martinez’s effort and reacting bravely to dive on the rebound.
Club America, who start their season next week, looked more energetic second half and dominated the early stages. Joel Pereira, who replaced Grant at half time, did well to stop Martinez after being put through one-on-one, but Club America’s goal eventually came after pressure on the hour mark.
A left-wing cross found Martin in-between United centre-backs Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling, but he still did well to bullet a header past Pereira from 12 yards.
Luke Shaw went close immediately after with a curling right-footed effort from inside the box, while 18-year-old Chong was handed 30 minutes by Jose Mourinho for his senior debut.
Mason Greenwood, 16, was also brought on for his debut with 15 minutes remaining as the midfielder replaced Shaw, but it was Chong who played his part in the equaliser.
Finding a yard to cross from the right, Chong’s fine delivery found Herrera’s head, and though his effort from an angle came off the post, Mata was there to strike low as the ball somehow found its way into the net.
United now face San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday in Santa Clara, California before a clash with AC Milan in the International Champions Cup on Thursday in LA.
Valencia will be captain: Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has revealed that Antonio Valencia will be Manchester United’s captain for the 2018-19 season.
Michael Carrick had been the club’s nominal captain last season, but played just five times in all competitions before retiring in May.
With Carrick moving into a coaching role with the Red Devils, they had no designated captain for the new campaign, but Mourinho has provided clarity by naming the experienced Ecuador international as the new club captain.
Valencia appeared in 31 Premier League games last season, but Mourinho hinted that he may not always wear the armband in 2018-19, with other players set to step into the role when the 32-year-old is absent.
Mourinho named four players likely to inherit the role if Valencia misses out, while also indicating that summer 2017 signing Nemanja Matic is also being considered but may have to wait until he spends more time at Old Trafford.
“Valencia will be the captain but when he doesn’t play, we have to make decisions – it depends who is on the pitch,” Mourinho told the club’s official website.
“If [Chris] Smalling is, if Ashley Young is, if [Ander] Herrera is or if [Juan] Mata is, if they are on the pitch, they are an option. I think Matic has all the attributes to be Manchester United captain but of course he only arrived one year ago. But for me, I don’t care too much about the captaincy, I care more about the life in the dressing room.”

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