Mour­inho pleased as Lukaku opens ac­count

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Romelu Lukaku bagged his first goal in a Manch­ester United shirt on Mon­day as the 10-man Pre­mier League giants la­bored to a 2-1 vic­tory over Real Salt Lake in Utah. Lukaku, who joined the Red Devils from Ever­ton in a re­ported 75 mil­lion pound ($98.2 mil­lion) trans­fer last week, fired United ahead on 38 min­utes, latch­ing on to a low cross from Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan.

The 24-year-old Bel­gian in­ter­na­tional striker had also been in­volved in United’s equal­izer scored by Mkhi­taryan in the 29th minute af­ter Luis Silva had given Salt Lake a shock early lead. Lukaku used his strength and phys­i­cal pres­ence to hold off the Real de­fense to feed Jesse Lin­gard, who pro­vided the pass for Mkhi­taryan to score.

United man­ager Jose Mour­inho was pleased with Lukaku’s dis­play, say­ing the for­mer Chelsea player was now a “top striker.” “It’s just nice for him, not im­por­tant for me,” Mour­inho said of Lukaku’s first United goal. “Be­fore he scored the goal I told him I love every­thing you do on the pitch. Don’t be wor­ried about scor­ing or not scor­ing. He gets be­hind peo­ple, works and presses well. Like every­thing he does.

“It’s easy to feel it be­cause he was my player four years ago his evo­lu­tion has been great. He’s now a top striker. The goal is just a de­tail, not im­por­tant.”

RED CARD WOE

United’s win was marred by the sec­ond­half dis­missal of An­to­nio Va­len­cia for a reck­less lunge on Se­bas­tian Saucedo. Va­len­cia was given his march­ing or­ders af­ter a lengthy con­sul­ta­tion be­tween the match ref­eree and Mour­inho. “The ref­eree asked me to change the player and I didn’t be­cause I don’t agree with the card,” Mour­inho said, be­fore ap­pear­ing to sug­gest Saucedo was to blame.

“(He) was re­ally ag­gres­sive in the sec­ond half. That’s what hap­pens. Some other ac­tions were a bit dan­ger­ous,” Mour­inho said. “It’s young peo­ple with en­thu­si­asm play­ing against Manch­ester United but it’s a friendly match and it’s a dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity. But it’s pre­sea­son so no prob­lem. It is good ex­pe­ri­ence or us to play with one player less.”

The United goals were the rare high­lights of a dis­joined first half per­for­mance from Mour­inho’s side, who had trav­elled to Utah ear­lier Mon­day from their Los An­ge­les train­ing camp.

For much of the open­ing half United were sec­ond best, with their de­fense be­ing given a tor­rid time by a team who are lan­guish­ing near the foot of Ma­jor League Soc­cer’s Western Con­fer­ence.

The lively at­tack­ing trio of Luis Silva, Joao Plata and Jef­fer­son Savarino of­ten left United’s de­fense scram­bling to get into po­si­tion, with Phil Jones find­ing the move­ment of the Salt Lake front two hard to deal with. A surg­ing run from Savarino set up Silva’s open­ing goal on 23 min­utes.

United how­ever re­sponded swiftly with Mkhi­taryan’s equal­izer just be­fore the half hour mark. Real coach Mike Petke, with one eye on his team’s MLS fix­ture in Port­land on Wed­nes­day, with­drew his en­tire start­ing line-up at the 30-minute mark, and United cap­i­tal­ized to take the lead through Lukaku. Mour­inho also fielded a new start­ing XI for the sec­ond half, with Mar­cus Rash­ford and An­thony Mar­tial lead­ing the line for United. United again strug­gled to im­pose them­selves how­ever, and their frus­tra­tion boiled over when An­to­nio Va­len­cia was sent off for a reck­less lunge on Se­bas­tian Saucedo mid­way through the sec­ond half. United will face Manch­ester City in Hous­ton on Thurs­day in the third game of their US tour.—AFP

SANDY: Manch­ester United for­ward Romelu Lukaku, right, scores against Real Salt Lake goal­keeper Lalo Fer­nan­dez dur­ing the first half of a friendly soc­cer match Mon­day, in Sandy, Utah. — AP

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