Friday 19 January 2018

Romelu Lukaku gets off the mark for Man United in Real Salt Lake friendly win

Romelu Lukaku scored his first goal for Manchester United since joining from Everton
Romelu Lukaku scored his first goal for Manchester United since joining from Everton


Romelu Lukaku netted his first Manchester United goal in a win against Real Salt Lake that came at a cost, with Juan Mata injured and Antonio Valencia sent off.

Two days on from a comprehensive friendly victory at the LA Galaxy, Jose Mourinho's men made the two-hour flight from their California base to take on Utah's Major League Soccer side.

This was a harder workout as United could only earn a 2-1 success, with Lukaku finding the net for the first time since his big-money move on a night when Mata was forced off and Valencia sent off.

Luis Silva gave Real Salt Lake a deserved lead that was swiftly cancelled out by Henrikh Mkhitaryan, before Lukaku scored his first United goal.

It proved the winner after a second half that had needle if not chances.

Mata went off with ankle complaint sustained in a challenge by Sebastian Saucedo, who was forced off himself after a Valencia tackle that saw the right-back handed a red card after referee Allen Chapman spoke to Mourinho.

It was a stormy few minutes on a night when "severe weather" looked set to delay kick-off, only for it to clear before United arrived.

RSL started strongly as Albert Rusnak, a former Manchester City player, dragged wide and Joao Plata forced an unconvincing stop out of Joel Pereira.

A low drive by Scott McTominay, enjoying his first minutes of the tour, was the best United could muster before the hosts deservedly went ahead as a superb Jefferson Savarino pass was followed by an equally smart finish by Silva.

United belatedly jolted into life soon after as Mkhitaryan collected a pass on the edge of the box and fired home a low left-footed shot - a goal followed by 11 RSL changes.

The hosts have a league match at Portland Timbers within 48 hours to think about and those alterations were punished in the 38th minute.

A week on from completing his move, Lukaku collected a lovely pass from Mkhitaryan and rounded the goalkeeper to fire home from close range.

Lukaku struck into the side-netting before the break, which Mourinho returned from with an entirely new starting line-up.

Mata was among those changes and departed again within 14 minutes, being replaced by Demetri Mitchell after sustaining an ankle injury in a challenge by Saucedo.

Mourinho was unhappy with the challenge by a player soon forced off himself after a tackle by Valencia. The referee spoke to Mourinho and then sent off the right-back.

The incidents dominated a second half in which Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling had efforts, while Sergio Romero produced a decent stop to deny Kyle Curinga at the other end.

Matteo Darmian appeared hurt late on but completed the friendly.

Press Association

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