Man United edged past Tottenham Hotspur in a lively affair at the Hongkou Stadium in the International Champions Cup, picking up a 2-1 victory to record their fourth pre-season win on the bounce.
With the tie levelled at 1-1 going into the last ten minutes, 18-year-old Mancunian Angel Gomes popped up wide on the left flank and drove in-field, playign an intricate one-two with Spaniard Juan Mata before sliding in his first senior goal from an acute angle to cap off a sublime flowing move and give his side the victory in a game of two very contrasting halves.
United had started on the front foot and deservedly took the lead through Anthony Martial.
The Frenchman latched on to a well-weighted through ball from Andreas Pereira before seeing his low effort squirm under Spurs’ keeper Paulo Gazzaniga at his near post.
If United’s first was down to keeper error, Spurs’ equaliser certainly was not. Good play down the left resulted in a deep delivery being hooked to Lucas Moura on the edge of the area.
The former PSG star brought the ball down brilliantly and showed fine feet to work a shooting opportunity before his low effort took a huge deflection that wrong-footed Sergio Romero in the United net and trickled in.
Spurs had looked much more of a threat in the second half thanks to the introduction of the likes of Son, Lamela and Moura, but Gomes’ late strike was enough to win it for the Red Devils.
Despite being advertised as a friendly, tempers flared throughout and both Moussa Sissoko and Andreas Pereira can count themselves lucky for not receiving their marching orders in the first half.
Sissoko appeared to stamp on United’s new signing Daniel James, before a mass brawl threatened to break out. Instead it was just handbags between Harry Kane and Scott McTominay in the end.
Moments later, Pereira threw himself into a high two-footed lunge on Kane and escaped with just a caution. It was a challenge that nine times out of ten he’d have seen red for in the English Premier League.
The Hongkou crowd were lively under the lights. Image via Tom Lamming/ That’s
If China wanted to experience the Premier League and English football culture, then boy did it get its money’s worth.
Last week, United sent groundsman Dave Lindop to the Hongkou to survey the pitch after a horrendous playing surface in Beijing saw United’s preseason game with local rivals Manchester City called off in 2016.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær was sure to be cursing the pitch just before the hour mark, as Eric Bailly, who had been introduced just ten minutes prior, was stretchered off with suspected knee injury after his studs got caught in the turf.
Solskjær looked a dejected figure when asked about the injury, telling the press: “It seems that he’s twisted his knee, so we just have to do some scans and checks on him.
“At first sight, it doesn’t look great,” added the Norwegian gaffer.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was full of plaudits for the reception his club have received in China, commenting: “I want to say thank you to our fans here in Shanghai too, because their warm welcome was fantastic and all the people, the club staff, all the people who were working here at the tournament and all the hotel staff that helped us to make our lives easier, a big, big thank you."
Watch highlights of the game below (VPN off):
[Cover image via Xinhua]