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English Premier League

Manchester United vs Club America preseason tour 2018: Tahith Chong shines as Juan Mata rescues Jose Mourinho

A late goal from Juan Mata gives Manchester United a draw against Mexican side Club America in the United States

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 1:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 1:13pm

Manchester United began their preseason tour of the US with a dour 1-1 draw against Mexican side Club America, and had to be rescued by a late equaliser from Juan Mata.

Jose Mourinho still has five games and 21 days before United’s opening Premier League match against Leicester and the manager’s admission he is “worried” proved to be founded at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona.

There is good news with Alexis Sanchez finally on the way to join up with the squad after resolving his US visa issue. The Chilean had faced problems because of a 16-month suspended jail sentence imposed by a Spanish court in February for tax fraud.

It will ease the burden on Mourinho and United, who are without several of their top stars including Paul Pogba, David de Gea, Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford, as well as Brazilian new boy Fred, as they rest following the World Cup.

Most of them will be unavailable when Leicester come to Old Trafford on August 10. Mourinho all but confirmed United’s starting defence for the match, with Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof all on holiday too following their Russia 2018 exploits.

Daley Blind also returned to Ajax this week, while new £19 million right back Diogo Dalot is out until September with a meniscus injury.

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“The line up has the most possible I would say men,” Mourinho told MUTV. “Because the objective is to prepare them the best we can for the start of the season because we don’t have many more players than this one.

“[Antonio] Valencia, [Chris] Smalling, [Eric] Bailly and [Luke] Shaw, they are probably the ones to start the season. Andreas Pereira, ]Ander] Herrera and Scott [McTominay] tonight {against Club America].”

Juan Mata and Anthony Martial started in attack for United, alongside youngster Demetri Mitchell, who will make way for Sanchez against United.

With Lee Grant in goal, who made three impressive saves on his United debut, it was Mourinho’s strongest possible starting line-up, and will be close to the team that starts the season, though De Gea, Matic and Fred will fly out to join the tour next week.

United, dressed in their new home kit which has caused a stir, went behind in the 59th minute when Antonio Lopez crossed for the unmarked Henry Martin to head past second-half substitute goalkeeper Joel Pereira.

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Mourinho turned to his bench in response, with the impressive Tahith Chong coming on and setting up the equaliser in the 78th minute.

Chong’s cross was headed by Andreas Pereira onto the post, with Mata’s shot then beating substitute Club America goalkeeper Oscar Jimenez.

Dutch 18-year-old forward Chong arrived from Feyenoord two years ago and has shone at academy and reserve level, and he could be a solution in the right-wing role which Mourinho has struggled to fill.

“I have plans to make him train the most possible times with us,” Mourinho told reporters in Arizona. “Because that increases his evolution but he has to play where he belongs, he has to play in the academy and develop physically, because physically is where he is not ready.

“Technically he is very good, tactically he understands the game and he understands his position but by the physical point of view, but when the game gets into contact situations he is in trouble, he is fragile, he is still a kid.

“But the talent is there, the personality is there, the passion to play, the humility to learn, so this is a fantastic experience for him. If he can play like today, 20 or 25 minutes in every one of these five matches and, if during the season he trains with us, and has a couple of occasions to play minutes with us, I don’t know, depends, some cup matches.

“He is one of the good kids we have. It is not for today but for the tomorrow he is a good kid.”

Mourinho was fairly satisfied with what he saw from his team, as they had their first run out since May’s FA Cup final.

“It was a good training session for us and for them,” Mourinho added. “They start the league this week so they are in a more advanced stage than we are but for them was a good training.

“Both teams fought for a result, was a friendly, the result was not the most important thing but the players fought for the result and made the game quite nice.

“In the first-half we were the best team, had the best chances, in the second-half they were stronger than us, they score that goal and without the only striker we have here we had to try to go for it and the players showed their intention. So it was OK.”