Sunday 18 February 2018

Sanchez shows touches of class in stroll at Yeovil

Yeovil Town 0 Man Utd 4

Marcus Rashford pounces on hesitation in the Yeovil defence to open the scoring for Manchester United. Photo: PA
Marcus Rashford pounces on hesitation in the Yeovil defence to open the scoring for Manchester United. Photo: PA

Sam Wallace

The Alexis Sanchez era began at Manchester United with victory at Huish Park in the FA Cup fourth round, where the locals told him just what a waste of money they considered him before the English game's best-paid player was named man of the match.

A bit early for any definitive verdict, but there were two assists for Sanchez in a solid B-string performance against Yeovil Town, currently 87 places below United in the pyramid.

Manchester United's Ander Herrera keeps the ball from Yeovil Town's Sam Surridge. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester United's Ander Herrera keeps the ball from Yeovil Town's Sam Surridge. Photo: Getty Images

Jose Mourinho's team went through to the fifth round without any fuss, while Sanchez was kicked on more than one occasion, generous in creating Ander Herrera's goal, United's second, and came off after 71 minutes without calamity or injury.

It seems that Mourinho views him as a left-sided attacking player in much the same way as he was at Arsenal, and that was where he started with a few switches during the course of the game in which United finally took the lead before half-time through Marcus Rashford.

Exotic

At Yeovil, where there are fears of a fall-back into non-league this season, Sanchez, the highest-paid player in the Premier League, was an exotic curiosity.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Getty Images

It is not as if English football and all its strange rites is anything new to Sanchez, who has won two FA Cups and has nothing to fear from the English lower leagues, given his tough route to the top from his hometown in northern Chile.

There was a risk for Mourinho in throwing him into a largely second-choice side, but United never looked in any trouble against a Yeovil side who barely got close to the away side's goal, save for set-pieces.

By the end, Mourinho had sent on the 17-year-old Angel Gomes as a substitute for Rashford and, not long after, he almost scored, before finally Jesse Lingard, another substitute, was given the time and space to score the third and Romelu Lukaku the fourth.

There were 10 changes from the United side that beat Burnley on Saturday, with Juan Mata the sole survivor at Huish Park.

Manchester United's Victor Lindelof tussles with Yeovil Town's Sam Surridge. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester United's Victor Lindelof tussles with Yeovil Town's Sam Surridge. Photo: Getty Images

United had the pace of left winger Jordan Green to think about when they did not have the ball, which was seldom during a first half of 73pc possession.

As captain, it was just Michael Carrick's second game of the season and he started in a midfield three with Herrera and Scott McTominay.

That left Sanchez cutting in on that famous right foot from the left side and, in the early stages, he seemed over-anxious to make an impact.

There was a wayward pass that turned over possession to Yeovil and another that went straight into the stand, the source of much delight to the home fans.

The new signing took precedence for free-kick duties in the first half and it was also him who created the opening goal for Rashford, or at least he started the move.

Yeovil Town's Francois Zoko challenges Manchester United's Luke Shaw. Photo: Getty Images
Yeovil Town's Francois Zoko challenges Manchester United's Luke Shaw. Photo: Getty Images

The young Englishman had skipped through the middle on to Sanchez's pass, but was crowded out and Thomas James was in possession when Rashford realised the Yeovil full-back had forgotten about him.

James was idly guiding the ball back to goalkeeper Artur Krysiak, unaware of Rashford's proximity, and the United man nipped back in and tucked a shot into the net.

It was the softest of goals for Yeovil to concede after a decent first half of hard graft.

Yeovil had forced a save from Sergio Romero early on - through Green - but the challenge now was to score a goal that would keep them in the cup and take them back to Old Trafford.

They just did not see enough of the ball and, when they did win it, the home team were so far away from goal that United held them at arm's length with ease.

It was hard work chasing down the Premier League side and, when eventually United did create a chance, the second goal was taken beautifully.

It started with a long ball cleared out from the back by Luke Shaw and gathered by an unlikely target man, Mata, whose touch and awareness of space meant that he could turn right and pick out Sanchez breaking forward into the Yeovil half.

It must have crossed the Chilean's mind to have a shot himself in front of the away end, but he had Rashford and Herrera holding their runs ahead of him and picked the latter, who finished neatly across goalkeeper Krysiak.

Before at last Sanchez was replaced by Lingard after 71 minutes, he was kicked on his right ankle and spent some time demonstrating his pain on the pitch while his new team-mates carried on building their attack regardless.

Gomes, Lukaku and Lingard had all come on by the end, when Lingard was given too much space by Yeovil to add a third goal. By the time Lukaku added a fourth the dream was over for the home team - although it would be hard to say they were ever close.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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