Anthony Martial battles for possession with Jose Maria Gimenez

Man Utd 0-1: Atletico Madrid: Late Joao Felix strike sinks Erik Ten Hag’s side as Fred sees red

Manchester United suffered their first defeat of pre-season as Joao Felix’s late strike secured a 1-0 victory for Atletico Madrid in Oslo.

It was a fiery encounter and a friendly only by name, with United midfielder Fred sent off in the closing stages for a second bookable offence moments after Felix’s ferocious strike broke the deadlock.


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With one week until United’s first Premier League game of the season, Erik Ten Hag selected a team that is likely to start against Brighton next Sunday – live on Sky Sports – but was without Jadon Sancho due to illness.

Man Utd team vs Atletico Madrid

Starting XI: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Malacia, Fred, McTominay, Elanga, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.

Subs: Heaton, Kovar, Telles Laird, Martinez, Eriksen, Garner, Pellistri, Van de Beek.

Christian Eriksen in action against Atletico Madrid
Image:
Christian Eriksen in action against Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid, a few weeks behind in their pre-season preparations, made a raft of changes midway through the second half, to bring on Felix, Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata, Koke, Rodrigo de Paul and Saul. It was ultimately this injection of quality which turned the game for the Spanish side.

Christian Eriksen made his debut off the bench and provided a few dangerous moments for United, including a corner which saw Harry Maguire miss a free header from close-range just five minutes before Felix’s winner.

There will be a chance, potentially, for Eriksen and a few other players who did not start on Saturday, to play in United’s final pre-season friendly against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Ten Hag, the United manager, said those who started will not feature against Ray Vallecano, but said “there are players who came on that can start tomorrow”.

Tyrell Malacia fires a shot at the Atletico goal
Image:
Tyrell Malacia fires a shot at the Atletico goal

Cristiano Ronaldo, who this week reiterated his desire to leave United, appeared to confirm he will be playing in that game on social media on Friday night, saying: “Sunday, the King plays”.

The 37-year-old forward was training with the rest of the United squad – largely the younger players – who remained behind at Carrington on Saturday and posted a picture from the session on his social media, with the caption: “Working in progress”.

United’s other new signing, Lisandro Martinez, was an unused substitute and is expected to feature against Rayo Vallecano.

Ten Hag ‘not satisfied’ after Atletico defeat

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag speaking to MUTV:

“I think it was a tough workout and I think we contributed really well. I think the performance from our team was really good.

“In the end it’s about the result, and the score was not good. You have to take benefits if you create chances. I think we created many chances, to produce at least one goal – that point, I am not satisfied. I have told the team it is not acceptable.

“I like competitiveness, but with respect. I don’t want to have injuries as well. That’s why you have to keep respect for each other. I have seen some tackles which are maybe a little bit over the limit.”

Sancho absence highlights Man Utd problem area

Jadon Sancho is congratulated by team-mate Diogo Dalot after making it 3-0
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Jadon Sancho was unavailable through illness

Sancho’s form in pre-season has been one of the most promising takeaways for United this summer, but his absence against Atletico laid bare the lack of attacking depth they have on the right-hand side.

Anthony Elanga, who is more comfortable on the left, filled in for the 22-year-old but had a quiet afternoon and was bullied by Atletico, receiving some heavy challenges on multiple occasions.

United, as a result, were once again lopsided, with most of their attacks coming down the left, which ultimately made Atletico’s job of keeping them out that much more straightforward.

There were half chances for Rashford and Martial in the first half, but Oblak was on hand to stop the England international’s near-post effort and the Frenchman fired over under pressure when through on goal.

Rashford and Elanga continue to show they are unconvincing on the right, which leaves United needing another forward to share the workload with Sancho.

United’s pursuit of Ajax forward Anthony reportedly took a blow this week as the Dutch club upped their valuation of the winger to €100m.

With just over a month to go, Ten Hag will be concerned by the slow nature of their business so far with plenty of problem areas to fill. The right of attack is certainly among them.

Eriksen excites in Man Utd debut cameo

Eriksen came on to rapturous applause from the United-dominated crowd in Oslo as he made his debut for his new club.

Despite entering the fray with only 20 minutes to play, Eriksen oozed class and demonstrated just why Ten Hag fought so hard to bring him to Old Trafford.

The Denmark international was operating in a central role alongside substitute Donny van De Beek, with Fred the anchor in midfield.

Almost immediately, Eriksen delivered a cross into the box which highlighted the lack of cutting edge United had shown up until that stage, with Rashford narrowly failing to connect with what would have been a sure-fire goal.

The Dane almost created the spark to break the deadlock with 15 minutes to go as his corner found Maguire free in the middle of the penalty area, only for his captain to miss the target with what was United’s best chance of the game.

Eriksen’s performances in Oslo and in training have impressed his team-mate, Elanga, who said: “You can see it even in training, just his little touches and the way he scans around the pitch.

“He’s a top player to work with and you can see his qualities on the pitch, I’m sure this season the fans will see more and more of him.”

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