A huge crowd packed the MCG to see world football giants Manchester United finish the Melbourne leg of their pre-Premier League tour on an exquisite note, writes Nick D’Urbano.
In front of another boisterous crowd, United cranked it up a notch, playing with a newfound pride under new boss Erik ten Hag as the Red Devils racked up three wins from three under his tutelage.
While it’s easy to get carried away by pre-season form, United were far sharper, silkier and more fluid on the ball and the vast majority of the 76,499 crowd ate every moment of it – with over 150,000 fans pouring through the goals in between the clash on Tuesday night and last Friday’s clash with Melbourne Victory.
Each of the goals in their 3-1 win was exquisite as they weaved their way through the Palace defenders with relative ease and demonstrated the fundamentals of the philosophy ten Hag executed with ease at Ajax.
Those who bought United tickets were sure to get their money’s worth for the second time in under a week as ten Hag put together another strong line-up from the start with a view to the season opener in under three weeks.
After missing the encounter with Melbourne Victory, much-loved goalkeeper David de Gea returned to the side, while Marcus Rashford, who came on as a substitute and scored on Friday, got the go-ahead and found the net again.
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The England striker was joined by Anthony Martial, who scored three goals out of three this pre-season, and Jadon Sancho on the goalscoring list before Palace defender Joel Ward nodded home in consolation, but sadly for young United defender William Fish, his ended rare opportunity with him being sent off in the final minutes.
Palace fans, on the other hand, who were seeing their heroes in the flesh for the first time Down Under, weren’t so lucky as the London side were nowhere near the full strength at their disposal, as did a number of key figures including last season’s top scorer , Wilfried Zaha and the English national player Marc Guehi are not traveling.
Whilst the result is superficially irrelevant to the season, Patrick Vieira’s side had a few moments throughout the game, with youngster Malcolm Ebiowei being particularly impressive but ultimately being outclassed by a vastly superior United team.
Palace will complete their first Aussie adventure in Perth when they take on Leeds on Friday and will be joined by Manchester, who finish their tour Down Under against Aston Villa the following night.
MAGUIRE’S ICY RECEPTION
There wouldn’t have been many people who could have foreseen Harry Maguire being booed on Tuesday night.
While virtually all United players were met with universal admiration throughout the game, Maguire had to win over the ardent Aussie United fans, who oddly booed him every time he touched the ball in the opening stages of the competition on Tuesday night.
However, the mockery died down during the first half. Indeed, the England international met with a decidedly positive reaction at the end of half-time as he came close to scoring the first goal.
NO RONALDO, NO WORRY?
With Cristiano Ronaldo still absent on furlough, an opportunity at the head of United’s attack has presented itself throughout the pre-season tour and Anthony Martial is making the most of his second chance at the club.
Martial, who fell out of favor under former boss Ralf Rangnick and was loaned to Spanish club Sevilla for the latter half of last season, has since returned to United under ten Hag and has scored three goals from three games this pre-season, a decent finish at the back post and a role in United’s second.
During his 60 minutes on the pitch, the French striker cut a rejuvenated figure and appeared to be relishing the chance to play in a new system after a difficult couple of seasons before his temporary departure. Now there is every reason to believe he will feature against Brighton in the season opener, even if Ronaldo returns to the side in time.
Originally published as Football News 2022: Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at MCG
https://www.codesports.com.au/football/football-news-2022-manchester-united-defeats-crystal-palace-31-at-mcg/news-story/fcf41f0058f10ac84354a5e34dd77c84?nk=5961f8bbea3d5c0965a991cc7bf5f81c-1658236569 Football News 2022: Manchester United v Crystal Palace scores 3-1 at MCG in Melbourne, VIC, Australia