Manchester United recovered from a shaky first half to destroy Galatasaray 5-2, with new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic getting on the scoresheet in spectacular fashion.
The friendly against Galatasaray was highly anticipated by the Red Devils’ fans given the possibility of seeing Zlatan in a United shirt for the first time, and Jose Mourinho did not disappoint, handing the Swedish superstar his first start for the club.
The striker made an instant impact, scoring in spectacular fashion just four minutes into the game. Galatasaray came back to lead 2-1 going into the second half, but United found their gear after making five changes at half time. Mourinho’s team ran the Turkish side ragged, scoring four goals without reply after the break.
From Zlatan’s heroics to Mata’s consistent contributions, TheHardTackle discusses five talking points from United’s win in Gothenburg.
1. Zlatan does Zlatan things on his Manchester United debut
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has an undeniable aura about him that makes him one of the most popular footballers on the planet. The Swede is known for his audacious goals, and his strike against Galatasaray on Saturday gave the United fans a glimpse of what may be in store for them next season.
The striker got on the end of a beautifully floated Antonio Valencia cross in the penalty box and scored past Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera with a stunning — albeit slightly mistimed — scissor-kick. It was the perfect way for Zlatan to announce his arrival to the Manchester United faithful.
2. Rashford shows he is here to stay as Rooney excels in his new role
England international Marcus Rashford has shown time and again that the maturity in his game belies his tender age. The youngster came on at the start of the second half and terrorised the Galatasaray defence, who seemed to have no answer to Rashford’s pace and determination.
Rashford ran at the defence with the ball on multiple occasions and wowed the crowd with his ability. The teenager seem to combine well with Wayne Rooney, who excelled in the no.10 role. The academy product’s hold-up play and vision was instrumental in United’s second goal to tie the score. While he played a crucial part in Rooney’s goal, the goal that gave the Red Devils the lead was purely his own.
Meanwhile, Rooney’s passing and ball control gave him problems in the first-half, but a completely different player emerged in the second half. The former Everton striker played Rashford through in the 57th minute, and the 18-year-old used his pace to get past the opposition defenders, only to be brought down in the box by the Galatasaray goalkeeper. Rooney calmly converted the subsequent penalty, giving his side the lead.
The United skipper was one of the main catalysts in United’s comeback and is sure to give Mourinho a headache in terms of selection ahead of the season.
3. Mata is “Juan” man on a mission
Juan Mata seems to be on a mission of his own to change Jose Mourinho’s stance regarding his place in the team. The former Chelsea boss had reportedly offered Mata a squad role for next season and warned the Spaniard that he would have to prove himself in that limited time on the pitch to feature more regularly.
Mata looks to have started making an impression in pre-season itself, being involved in his third goal in United’s three friendly games this summer. While Mata showed his unselfish side in the first two games, providing assists to Will Keane and Henrikh Mkhitaryan respectively, the Spaniard showed his finishing prowess on Saturday as he got on the end of a beautiful low cross in the box and slotted it past Muslera. Mourinho may be forced to give the former Chelsea attacker a lot more game time than promised if he continues to perform this way.
4. United’s defensive woes continue as Bruma shines for Galatasaray
Jose Mourinho needs to analyse the problems with his defence before the season starts if he wishes to challenge for the title in his debut season at Old Trafford. While his attacking unit seems to have clicked instantly, the central defensive pairing needs to be sorted out. Eric Bailly has shown his steel in the centre of the defence, but the question remains as to who will partner the former Villarreal player.
United’s poor defending from set-pieces continued as Galatasaray scored from an indirect free-kick, before a brilliant individual effort by Bruma doubled the number of goals conceded by the Red Devils in the match. Mourinho has been reported to be on the lookout for an experienced central defender this summer and has been linked with Leonardo Bonucci. With the Juventus defender unlikely to leave, the Portuguese will look elsewhere for a world-class centre-back to partner the solid Eric Bailly.
5. The fringe players show their quality in an effort to convince Mourinho
Antonio Valencia, Marouane Fellaini and Memphis Depay are reportedly on the fringes of the first-team setup at Old Trafford, but all three of them stood out in the match against Galatasaray. Valencia showed a whole new side to his game with beautifully floated crosses in the box as opposed to his usual drilled crosses along the ground that often failed to beat the first defender.
The South American finished the game with three assists and was the subject of a lot of praise from United fans on Twitter. Fellaini came on late into the second half, but showed what he could add to Mourinho’s squad as he got on the end of one of Valencia’s crosses and scored the team’s fourth with a looping header.
Memphis Depay also came on late but showed glimpses of why he is so highly rated. The Dutch winger dazzled the crowd with his runs and was a constant threat to the defence, driving at them at every chance. He has been subjected to a lot of speculation linking him with a move away from Old Trafford, but if Depay can prove to Mourinho that he is capable of replicating his PSV form for United, he may just manage to feature in the Portuguese’s plans for next season.