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Manchester United draws Club America 1-1 on Mata goal

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Manchester United began Jose Mourinho’s “very bad” preseason with a drab 1-1 draw against Liga MX side Club America.

Juan Mata hit the post in the opening 20 minutes and later scored the equalizer in the 78th minute after Ander Herrera‘s header rebounded off the crossbar and right into the Spaniard’s lap. Mata then put his shot through the goalkeeper’s legs and in for the only goal for the Red Devils.

With many players receiving extra rest after participating in the 2018 World Cup, Manchester United is utilizing a bit-part roster for much of the preseason which includes five matches in the United States. Regulars Mata, Herrera, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, and Antonio Valencia were all included in the starting lineup, but they were joined by a smattering of relative unknowns.

35-year-old journeyman goalkeeper Lee Grant played the first 45 minutes between the sticks, replaced in the second half by 22-year-old Joel Peirera. 22-year-old midfielder Andreas Pereira played the full 90 minutes in midfield, while 21-year-old winger Demetri Mitchell saw his name listed among the starters along with Scott McTominay, who suffered a nasty looking head injury late in the match on an overhead kick attempt.

16-year-old Mason Greenwood got a few minutes towards the end, with Mourinho hoping to get a quick look at the club’s U-18 leading scorer. Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Alex Tuanzebe also both came off the bench to participate, as did 18-year-old former Feyenoord youth product Tahith Chong who was impressive during his second-half appearance.

While Manchester United held a slight majority in possession, Club America out-shot the Premier League giants 15-10, however the Liga MX side could only manage to put four of those on target.

Mourinho tears into forwards after loss at Brighton

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If Romelu Lukaku‘s fine season hasn’t made his Manchester United MVP argument for him, perhaps Friday’s lackluster and Lukaku-free loss to Brighton did the job for him.

[ MORE: Match recap | Brighton reacts ]

Jose Mourinho sure thinks so.

“For 10 months I get asked ‘why always Lukaku? Why always Lukaku, why always Lukaku? Why always this player? That guy doesn’t have a chance to start, the other one is on the bench.’,” he said. “You know why now.”

Mourinho went on to rip his fill-ins, as the front free of Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial got little to nothing done.

“It was not good enough. The players that replaced others did not perform at a good level and when individuals do that it is difficult for the team to play well. Maybe now you will not ask me why A, B and C do not play so much.

“I knew what was going to happen and I told them, but that is what we got. … I wouldn’t say disappointed. I know them. I thought that the possibility to start the game and give reason would give them something.”

It’s safe to say Mourinho is planning on opening up the vault this summer — I still think the Pogba/Martial for Neymar swap is plausible — and the training ground probably won’t be a brilliant place to be over the final week of the season.

Brighton safe after upset of Man Utd

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  • Gulls insure PL status
  • GDS defies Rojo clearing attempt
  • Gross scores 7th of season

Pascal Gross‘ 57th minute goal was enough to lead Chris Hughton‘s Brighton and Hove Albion past lackluster Manchester United 1-0 at the Amex Stadium on Friday.

The win boosts the Gulls to 40 points, good for 11th place in the Premier League. United stays second with 77 points,

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marouane Fellaini looked to have a near trademark goal in the third minute, but he was offside and the linesman didn’t miss the call.

United should’ve went ahead in the 26th minute, but Marcus Rashford waited ages to find an unmarked-at-the-spot Anthony Martial before popping a meek shot wide. Martial was right to feel aggrieved.

Brighton wasn’t without its chances, and David De Gea made a terrific stop on Glenn Murray during the first 45.

All-in-all, Brighton out shot United 8-4 in the half. The Red Devils failed to muster a shot on target.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It was Brighton who’d go ahead via Goal Decision System, as Marcos Rojo appeared to make a goal line clearance on Gross’ header only to be defied by the slimmest of margins.

Gross gave a chance to United when he pulled back Juan Mata on the edge of the 18, but the Spaniard overcooked his effort.

United’s efforts continued to miss the frame or bounce to a well-positioned Mat Ryan as the match reached its final 15 minutes.

Manchester United 2-1 Liverpool: Mourinho’s men grind it out

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  • Rashford 2-0 LFC at half
  • Bailly own goal gives Reds life
  • 200th meeting of the clubs

Marcus Rashford‘s first half brace gave Manchester United a 2-1 win over rivals Liverpool in a nasty tilt at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Liverpool is winless in five matches against Man Utd — the previous four were draws — and has only one win in 10 versus the Red Devils since the start of 2014-15 season.

An Eric Bailly own goal was the only way through for Liverpool, as the Reds dropped five points back of second place United. The victorious Red Devils are 13 points behind leaders Man City, but now 12 points clear of fourth place Chelsea.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Rashford’s bullet opener followed a Romelu Lukaku flick of David De Gea‘s massive goal kick in the 14th minute.

Virgil Van Dijk missed a free header off a corner kick when his effort went off his shoulder and wide of the goal, and the other end of the pitch soon saw Rashford back in business.

Lukaku won a long ball and turned his effort to Juan Mata. The Spaniard was tackled, but the ball came clean to Rashford for another smashing finish beyond Loris Karius.

Roberto Firmino worked himself clear for a long hard rip in the 31st minute that fired right into the arms of De Gea.

It was close to a 3-0 when Mata hit a shot wide of the far post.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Liverpool looked better after the break, and Salah was defied by his touch and Chris Smalling off a Firmino chipped feed in the 50th minute.

Sadio Mane led a break and couldn’t find Salah. Ashley Young did well to cut out the danger, but Liverpool was just a hair off.

Liverpool got one back in the 66th minute when Mane’s hopeful cross was directed into the United goal by an almost impossibly positioned Bailly.

Mata seems to confirm Champions League is Man United’s priority

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With the Premier League title all but wrapped up, English top flight teams are beginning to put their true focus onto competitions they still have a realistic shot of winning.

Manchester United sits in second place in the Premier League table, but they are a full 18 points back of rivals Manchester City, as so with a Champions League match against Sevilla on Wednesday afternoon, Juan Mata all but confirmed that the Red Devils are putting their main efforts into Europe’s largest competition.

[ MORE: Messi pegs back Chelsea despite winning tactics ]

“If we had less of a gap with respect to the Premier League leaders and we had a chance to fight for it, it wouldn’t be so tough to be eliminated from the Champions League, but now our aim is to progress from every round,” Mata said to Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. “It would be a big blow to be eliminated in the last 16.”

Last season, a similar story played out. Manchester United was out of reach of a top four finish in the league, so manager Jose Mourinho publicly admitted they were putting their main focus on the Europa League due to the automatic berth the competition’s winner received into next year’s Champions League. The gamble paid off, as Manchester United won the competition and earned their spot in the Champions League this season.

Sevilla has not progressed past the Round of 16 since 1958. Manchester United, meanwhile, has not made it past the Champions League quarterfinals since their runners-up finish in 2011, when they lost to Barcelona in the final at Wembley Stadium.