Reds see off rivals Spurs in Shanghai
Angel Gomes's first senior goal helped Manchester United to a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai on Thursday, earning the Reds a fourth successive pre-season win.
Anthony Martial had given United the lead in the first half, but some effective half-time substitutions from Spurs led to an equaliser for the Lilywhites in the second period, before Gomes's sublime intervention steered the Reds back on course for another win.
The only negative for Solskjaer's men was an injury to Eric Bailly, who was taken from the field on a stretcher less than 15 minutes after coming on as one of 11 half-time substitutes. But the manager and his staff will be content with a gutsy, feisty performance in a match between two Premier League big-hitters that did not always appear 'friendly'.
The teams eventually emerged into the impressive arena at 19:30 local time, with the Reds' starting XI showing multiple changes from the one that began the victory over Internazionale last Saturday in Singapore.
Only five players - David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Paul Pogba, Daniel James and Anthony Martial - remained from the team that kicked off against the Milanese outfit.
Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo - both given a rest against Inter - were reintroduced as the central defensive duo, with Ashley Young coming in at left-back and Andreas Pereira and Scott McTominay forming an all-Academy graduate midfield wih Pogba. In attack, another homegrown talent Marcus Greenwood played alongside Martial and James. Matteo Darmian, Lee Grant, Phil Jones and Romelu Lukaku were all absent from the matchday squad.
Meanwhile Spurs, intriguingly, gave an unofficial debut to their club-record signing, French midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.
Spurs attacked in similar fashion when Pogba was dispossessed and the ball was worked to Dele Alli. The woodwork didn't deny the England international, but David De Gea did and Alli's frustration may have been a factor when he fouled McTominay minutes later to pick up the first booking of the evening here in Shanghai.
A breakthrough seemed inevitable one way or another, and it came in the 21st minute. A neat, clever give-and-go on the right flank from Andreas helped him move infield, leading to an expertly-weighted nudge through to Martial on the right. This time, luck favoured our no.11, as his left-footed shot crept under Gazzaniga at the near post and dribbled over the line.
The goal was followed by a niggly, intemperate period of fouls, the worst of which was delivered to James by Spurs hardman Mousa Sissoko. An angry debate followed between the two teams, with the leading protagonists appearing to be Harry Kane and McTominay. Thankfully, all parties had the chance to cool down around the half-hour mark, when a drinks break was signalled, helping the players to rehydrate in the oppressive 32-degree heat.
McTominay was soon at the heart of the matter again, aiding the United cause when he slid in to clear away a dangerous Kane throughball, but it was United who finished the half stronger. James was robbed on the edge of the area after a dangerous run, and then, seconds later, won the ball back 20 yards away, eliciting squeals of delight from the crowd for covering the turf in trademark rapid style. Then Pogba thundered a rising shot just past Gazzaniga's right-hand post from 25 yards out.
Another United change quickly followed, this time due to circumstances beyond Solskjaer's control. Eric Bailly went down in pain, and Axel Tuanzebe entered as his replacement, as the upset Ivorian was stretchered away.
More heartbreak followed when Spurs levelled soon after, with the ball deflecting past the unfortunate Sergio Romero after Son's shot. United responded well, however, and went close when Gomes weaved into the area and spooned an effort over the bar, and threatening again when Dalot creating a crossing opportunity on the right of the box, before spearing in a wicked ball that was bravely headed clear by a Tottenham defender.
The United end erupted, as Gomes and his team mates ran to celebrate, and a fourth consecutive victory reared into view.
Rashford thought he had extended the lead to 3-1 a few minutes later, when a Gomes ball sent him racing into the penalty area. His finish was unerring, low to the keeper's right, but he turned around to see the linesman's flag aloft, to his understandable disgust. But if his finishing on tour is anything to go by, a promising season could lie in wait for the young forward.
Tottenham pushed in the final stages, but despite several dangerous crosses and blocked shots, clear chances were hard to come by. They came closest in the final move of the night, when Skipp headed back across the area and found Lucas leaping high in the air, trying to power a header to Romero's left. The Argentinian goalkeeper sprang towards its flight, but its path took it just away from the post and Romero left it alone.
For Solskjaer and co, the hard work is only just beginning, but the Reds have performed as well as could be expected in pre-season so far, and will carry a good deal of confidence with them on the post-match flight back to Manchester.
United: De Gea (Romero 45), Wan-Bissaka (Dalot 45), Smalling (Bailly 45) (Tuanzebe 57), Rojo (Lindelof 45), Young (c) (Shaw 45), McTominay (Matic 45), Pogba (Fred 45), Andreas Pereira (Lingard 45), Greenwood (Mata 45), James (Gomes 45), Martial (Rashford 45).
Subs not used: J. Pereira, Chong, Garner.
Booked: Andreas Pereira.
Tottenham: Gazzaniga, Walker-Peters (Foyth 45), Tanganga (Marsh 70), Vertonghen (Alderweireld 45), Georgiou (White 62), Winks (Skipp 45), Sissoko (Eriksen 62), Ndombele (Lucas 45), Dele (Roles 62), Parrott (Lamela 45), Kane (c) (Son 45)
Subs not used: Whiteman, De Bie, Lyons-Foster.
Booked: Dele, Tanganga.