Greenwood scores again as United beat Inter
Mason Greenwood stepped off the bench to score the winning goal, as Manchester United made it three wins from three on Tour 2019 with a confident 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in Singapore.
Although the scoreline suggests it was a closely contested match in the International Champions Cup, in truth, the Reds were dominant from start to finish and could have scored many more goals against the Italians.
It was an excellent performance, filled with potential, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will surely feel pleased by the progress of a squad that is clearly growing in fitness, sharpness and confidence.
The only sour notes were a couple of second-half injuries, after Victor Lindelof and lively substitute Tahith Chong were forced off with knocks. An assessment will be made on the pair in due course.
United’s attention will now turn to the third leg of Tour 2019 in China, where the Reds will face Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai next Saturday - live on MUTV.
There is always plenty of intrigue surrounding United’s starting XI but, on this occasion, the interest levels spiked after Solskjaer named a side that looked impressively strong – prompting many to wonder whether it could be the team that will face Chelsea when the Premier League starts next month.
The manager picked David De Gea for his Tour 2019 debut and hot prospect Axel Tuanzebe started alongside regular centre-back Lindelof for the first time. The forwards were also young, exciting and full of pace, with Daniel James and Marcus Rashford on the wings, Jesse Lingard in the no.10 role and Anthony Martial leading the line. Ole, it seems, has a need for speed this season.
Pace has always excited the fans and there were plenty inside the Singapore National Stadium: the venue had 52,897 supporters present, and it would be generous to say that Inter had more than 2,000 fans in attendance. Make no mistake, the Red Army was in town and creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Solskjaer’s men started brightly by moving the ball around quickly and making use of the wide areas in attack, while also pressing high up the pitch with intensity when defending. It is clear that Ole’s pre-season training sessions are bearing fruit and a more defined style of play is being developed.
To accommodate the penetrating heat and humidity in Singapore, a drinks break took place after half an hour and Inter were fortunate not to be losing by that point, after Luke Shaw, Martial and Rashford had all gone close to scoring.
When play resumed, James should have broken the deadlock, when played through on goal by the advancing Lindelof, but the Welshman’s shot flew wide with what was the last meaningful piece of action from an encouraging first half for United.
Solskjaer made 11 substitutes at half time in the wins over Perth Glory and Leeds United, but on this occasion he retained the starting XI and that side began the second half with a great deal of intent.
First, a swift counter attack up the left wing led to Lingard seeing a low shot cleared off the line by an Inter defender, before Matic headed off the far post and Paul Pogba then danced his way past several markers to unleash a ferocious shot that was palmed away by the goalkeeper, Handanovic.
A setback arrived with the sight of Lindelof limping out of the match and straight down the tunnel with an injury, to be replaced by last Saturday’s goalscorer in Australia, Phil Jones. That was followed moments later, shortly after the hour mark, by Solskjaer make 10 more changes.
Among those replacements was Brazilian midfielder Fred, who made his first appearance of the tour after missing the Australian leg for family reasons.
Substitute Chong felt he should have been awarded a penalty and Ashley Young hit the target with a whipped shot that was saved, as United’s new XI pushed for a breakthrough in front of a partisan crowd.
It finally arrived via the left boot of Greenwood, who received the ball inside the penalty area after Young's shot was pushed out by Samir Handanovic, cut inside from his right to left boot and unleashed a devastating finish into the far corner of the net, sparking a massive celebration inside the Singapore National Stadium. The goal was the Academy prospect’s second of the summer, after he netted the opener against Leeds.
With the crowd still buzzing, Greenwood almost doubled his tally in sensational fashion by latching onto Chong’s brilliant cross from the left wing and clipping a delicate shot onto the crossbar.
It was a sensational entrance from the teenager, who looks set to make an impact at United in 2019/20, particularly with Solskjaer building a young and energetic team for the future..
United: De Gea (Romero 62), Wan-Bissaka (Dalot 62), Tuanzebe (Bailly 62), Lindelof (Jones 57), Shaw (Young 62), Matic (McTominay 62), Pogba (Fred 62), James (Andreas 62), Lingard (Mata 62), Martial (Chong 62) (Gomes 89), Rashford (Greenwood 62).
Sub not used: J. Pereira, Darmian, Rojo, Smalling, Garner.
Internazionale: Handanovic, De Vrij (Ranocchia 73), Dalbert (Pirola 73), D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Gagliardini (Barella 73), Sensi (Mario 73), Brozovic, Longo (Perisic 46), Candreva (Agoume 85), Esposito (Colidio 85).
Subs not used: Padelli, Berni, Valero, Bastoni, Ntube, Vergani.
Booked: Brozovic, Candreva, Skriniar.