Angel Gomes

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Astana’s comeback sinks young Man United

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Manchester United lost 2-1 at Astana, as the youngest starting lineup in Man United’s European history battled hard and took the lead but lost to the Kazakstani champions.

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Jesse Lingard gave United the lead as the likes of Mason Greenwood, James Garner and Angel Gomes impressed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have seven players their United debuts throughout the game. Second half goals from Shomko and an own goal from Bernard gave Astana the win, as Tahith Chong missed a glorious chance for United to double their lead just before Astana struck twice.

Despite the defeat United still have a chance of finishing in top spot in Group L heading into their final group game against AZ Alkmaar at home, while Astana had no hope of qualifying before the game but secured the biggest victory in their history.

Early on Mason Greenwood had a powerful effort on goal which was pushed away, as United’s young side started brightly.

Two of their more experienced campaigners combined for the opening goal as Luke Shaw fed Lingard, captaining United for the first time, who smashed home to end his run of 28 games without a goal for the Red Devils.

Lingard sent another effort wide soon after and another deflected just over, as Astana took their time to get into the game.

The hosts started the second half well as Bernard almost sliced one into his own net and then Maevski went close.

Shaw then did superbly to set up a glorious chance for Tahith Chong at the back post but he shanked his effort over the bar with the goal gaping.

Moments later Astana made United pay for that miss as Shomko drilled home a low effort into the far corner to send the home fans wild.

Moments later they were celebrating again as a cross from Antonio Rukavina deflected off Bernard and in to turn the game on its head.

Sigurjonsson and Murtazaev both went close as Astana pushed hard to put the game to bed, but their goalkeeper Eric pulled off a tremendous save to deny a fantastic free kick from Angel Gomes.

Eric denied Mason Greenwood with another flying save as Astana were pinned back late on as United’s youngster finished with a flourish but tasted defeat in Kazakhstan.

Europa League preview: Man Utd, Wolves, Arsenal begin group stage

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The Europa League begins its group stage on Thursday, with the three Premier League combatants taking on clubs from Kazakhstan, Portugal and Germany.

Manchester United’s kids are gonna get some playing time when Astana visits Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Teenager Mason Greenwood and 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe will start, and Sergio Romero will be between the sticks.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

And the Manchester Evening News notes that Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could also start at Old Trafford, meaning the veterans in the fray will be quite important.

Enter Fred, the forgotten $68 million man from Shaktar Donetsk. The 23 minutes he played last week versus Leicester City account for his lone time on the pitch this season.

Here’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:

“I’m sure we’ll see more and more of Fred. We spoke about it earlier, he’s had some great games in midfield with Scott against PSG and Arsenal, for example, and we’re just waiting for that to flourish.”

Fred had an odd record under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, barely in the squad when the team started hot but trusted against PSG and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Speaking of little-used midfielders, Arsenal boss Unai Emery is getting a little grief for leaving Mesut Ozil behind for the Gunners’ trip to Germany for a big match with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Ozil made his first start of the season in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Watford at the weekend, playing 71 minutes and departing with the club up 2-1.

So why not even bring him abroad? Rest.

“Because we are going to play another match on Sunday,” Emery said, via The London Evening Standard. “My decision is because he played and also I’m thinking tomorrow the focus and the first 11 and after that I decided who are the players who can be the best for tomorrow and also the players not and that is Sokratis and Mesut.”

Sokrastis Papastathopoulos is also out, having played a big role in the embarrassing performance at Watford.

There have been tough times for Wolves as well, who sit in the relegation zone after five matches of the Premier League season.

They’ve been quite good in Europa League, though, dispatching a pair of minnows before winning both legs against Serie A side Torino.

Why the inconsistency? It’s not fixture congestion, according to Ruben Neves:

“I don’t think fatigue has anything to do with it, Neves said, via The Birmingham Mail. “We’re all top players, we’re used to it, we’re used to playing a lot of games in quick succession. I don’t think the Europa League has (anything) to do with our position in the Premier League. Obviously, we haven’t had the start that we’ve wanted, but it’s been a beautiful journey into the Europa League. This is a historic moment for Wolves and we’re going to do our best in this competition.”

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men meet Braga at the Molineux, one of three tricky opponents in Besiktas and Slovan Bratislava.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow

Report: Man United shuts door on Pogba departure

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If the latest reports are to be believed, Paul Pogba is staying for at least another few months in Manchester.

Despite dropping hints through media interviews and his agent, Mino Raiola, that he wanted to leave Old Trafford this summer, Paul Pogba won’t be allowed to leave this window, according to a report from the Telegraph. It states that with the close of the Premier League transfer window, Pogba opportunity to leave is closed, at least until January or next summer.

[READ: Report: Eriksen turns down new Spurs offer]

Pogba is coming off a wild last 12 months. He went from winning the World Cup with France to re-joining his Man United teammates under Jose Mourinho. The pair famously feuded and Mourinho clearly lost his touch with the squad, leading to his dismissal and the introduction of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. All the while Pogba had an up and down season, but for a time in February and March, he was one of the best players in the Premier League. However, the lack of a summer break last year caught up with him, and his performances suffered late in the season.

Heading into this year, it appeared that Pogba was hoping to move, especially reportedly to play for his idol, Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid. However, Pogba signed a five-year contract with an option year when he re-joined the club in 2016. Ultimately, it seems that Pogba is much too valuable to Man United’s fortunes this season, especially if he were to leave for Real Madrid or even Juventus after the Premier League window is closed.

Pogba is going to be counted on by Solskjaer to be a key member of the squad this season. Nemanja Matic appears to be on the way down after a tremendous career in England, while Scott McTominay, Fred, James Garner and Angel Gomes all are in need of experience in top games. Based on Pogba’s assists against Chelsea, the club’s fortunes clearly rest on his outstanding talent. It’s now up to Pogba to put his head down, and keep his eye on leaving for next year.

Romelu Lukaku left out of Man United squad

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Romelu Lukaku has yet to feature for Manchester United in preseason and speculating regarding his future at Old Trafford will continue to swirl.

The Belgian star was left out of United’s 26-man squad for their trip to Norway to play Kristiansund on Tuesday, and there was no reason given for his absence on the club website.

Lukaku, 26, has been linked with moves to Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan throughout the summer and it appears the end-game is near.

Reports suggest that Juve will offer Paulo Dybala for Lukaku, while Inter have been negotiating with United for some time but the Red Devils are said to want over $90 million for their Belgian striker and Antonio Conte‘s side are yet to offer anywhere near that.

An extra caveat to all of this is that Lukaku traveled with United to Australia and China for their lengthy preseason tour but didn’t play a single second due to a minor injury.

He could often be seen training on his own or working out on an excercise bike in the gym, as his future remains up in the air.

Do United need him?

Given his penchant as a proven goalscorer, you always need those around. But given the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants young, speedy strikers and he has a lot of them, Lukaku’s skillset makes him surplus to requirements right off the bat.

We saw him chucked out wide at times during the second half of last season and although he caused problems in that role, he never looked comfortable. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and youngsters Dan James and Mason Greenwood looked more natural fits for United’s new high-octane playing style.

Lukaku has talked about his love for Serie A on multiple occasions and it appears his time in the Premier League is about to come to an end.

When we look back on his United career, 42 goals in 96 appearances isn’t a bad record at all. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.

His hold-up play didn’t improve much, neither did his record against the top six clubs, and the lack of service he received — especially in the opening months of Jose Mourinho’s final season in charge — saw him frustrated so when chances did arrive he snatched at them.

Along with Paul Pogba, Lukaku always seemed to be under pressure at United and it seems close to the mark to say both have been too inconsistent over the past few seasons.

Here is United’s squad in full for the trop to Norway

David De Gea, Lee Grant, Joel Pereira, Sergio Romero; Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Ashley Young; Fred, Angel Gomes, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Paul Pogba; Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.

Man United beat Tottenham in Shanghai (video)

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Manchester United capped off their tour to Australia and the Far East with a 2-1 win against Tottenham Hotspur in Shanghai, as tempers flared over in a tense International Champions Cup friendly at Hongkou Stadium.

Anthony Martial gave United the lead in the first half but Lucas Moura then equalized before academy youngster Angel Gomes, 18, scored the winner for the Red Devils who have a perfect record so far in preseason.

A feisty first half in China was played at a good tempo despite the heat, with youngsters Daniel James and Troy Parrot impressing for United and Spurs respectively.

Martial hit the post as he looked sharp throughout the first half, and soon the first goal of the game arrived.

After good work from Andreas Perreira, Martial finished from a tight angle past Paolo Gazzaniga at his near post. Spurs’ goalkeeper will not want to see that one back…

Moussa Sissoko clattered into James which resulted in a mini-scuffle between both sets of players with Harry Kane and Ashley Young at the center of things.

Before the break Tanguy Ndombele and Parrot were combining well and United almost doubled their lead as Paul Pogba smashed just off target.

United changed all 11 players at half time but Eric Bailly only lasted a few minutes as he came off injured, which was one of the only negatives for Solskjaer.

Spurs levelled the scores with 25 minutes to go as a tame effort from substitute Moura from the edge of the box somehow deflected past Sergio Romero and in.

Gomes then won it for United, as the youngster scored a superb goal to keep his impressive preseason going.

He was played in by Juan Mata before squeezing a shot home as it seemed he would pull the ball back for Marcus Rashford.

United now return to Europe having won all four of their preseason friendlies so far, as Solskjaer’s side are cranking through the gears impressively as they build up to the 2019-20 campaign.

Tottenham head to Munich to play against Real Madrid next week, plus either Bayern Munich or Fenerbache in the 2019 Audi Cup.