Manchester United Beat Sampdoria 2-1 After Juan Mata's Late Winner

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2017

DUBLIN, IRELAND - AUGUST 02:  Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United celebrates scoring a goal during the International Champions Cup match between Manchester United and Sampdoria at Aviva Stadium on August 2, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

Manchester United eased to a 2-1 win over Sampdoria on Wednesday in their pre-season friendly at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored after just nine minutes as United dominated the first half, but Dennis Praet equalised in the 63rd minute.

Substitute Juan Mata netted the decisive strike with nine minutes remaining in United's final match before taking on Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday.

The Red Devils almost made a disastrous start to the match, when David De Gea gave away an indirect free-kick six yards out after scrambling to keep out a dreadful backpass from Daley Blind.

However, the tide quickly turned; after preventing Sampdoria from capitalising on their position, Antonio Valencia led a rapid counter-attack before Matteo Darmian crossed for Mkhitaryan to head home from close range.

Football writer Liam Canning hailed the Italian following his assist:

Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning

Best performance I've seen from Matteo Darmian was in the Europa League final. Seems to have taken that form into pre-season. Big year ahead

He continued to look threatening going forward, as he put in another promising performance. But Blind's struggles also continued, and he almost allowed Fabio Quagliarella in by keeping him onside.

The Red Devils were otherwise comfortably on top, though, and Mkhitaryan twice came close with further headers, with the first saved by Christian Puggioni and the second glanced wide.

Romelu Lukaku also saw an effort deflected narrowly wide after cutting in from the right, while Andreas Pereira fired an effort over the bar.

Meanwhile, new signing Nemanja Matic took part in the first 45 minutes, and football writers Tom McDermott and Rob Dawson were both impressed:

Tom McDermott @MrTomMcDermott

Matic fitting into the system effortlessly. Game is easy for him. Looks like he's been sat there for years. #MUFC

Rob Dawson @RobDawsonESPN

Matic doing what you would expect so far. Working in front of the defence, breaking things up and being sensible with the ball. Good start.

United looked to have doubled their lead in the 62nd minute, when Marouane Fellaini found Ander Herrera for the Spaniard to lash home, but it was correctly disallowed for offside.

Sampdoria—who had improved since the restart—pulled level immediately, when Praet fired home a low effort from the edge of the area.

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News believed Chris Smalling to be at fault:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Poor positioning from Smalling. #mufc looking good in attack but their back three has struggled again tonight.

Anthony Martial's introduction proved fruitful, and soon after coming close to setting up Herrera, he picked out Mata following a lovely dribble. The Spaniard made no mistake from the edge of the area.

A strong finish from the Red Devils saw them force an excellent double save from Andrea Tozzo, who first kept out Herrera's volley from a corner and then denied Marcus Rashford on the rebound.


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