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Manchester-United-v-Sampdoria-Pre-Seson-Friendly-Aviva-Stadium-Dublin-Ireland-2-August-2017.jpg

Micky and Mata strike for Man United as Darmian shines in new role against Sampdoria

Date Posted,August 2, 2017

Manchester United won their final match of pre-season as they fought their way past Sampdoria in Dublin.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan opened the scoring in the first half, finishing a swift counter attack and bundling Matteo Darmian’s cross in from close range.

Dennis Praet levelled things after the break, lashing home from the edge of the area to restore parity with a clean strike.

But Juan Mata had the final say, finishing from Anthony Martial’s pull-back to give Jose Mourinho’s side another friendly victory.

Here are five things we learned in Dublin…

United celebrate their opener (Image: Rex Features)

1. A first look at Matic and Pogba

Matic impressed on his Red Devils bow (Image: Rex Features)

When Manchester United splashed £40million on Nemanja Matic, it wasn’t just for his qualities as a defensive midfielder, plentiful as the are.

Paul Pogba enjoyed a perfectly adequate first season back at Manchester United following his world record move from Juventus, although that fee is soon to be eclipsed, and then some, by Neymar.

But he wasn’t he powerful, marauding, attacking midfielder United were desperate for on as many occasions as they might have liked, and the hope from Old Trafford was Matic would help that.

We saw the first signs of that dynamic bearing fruit here – with Jose Mourinho selecting both to start the game.

Expect to see their on-field relationship develop further in the UEFA Super Cup next week.

2. Mourinho still tinkering

Mourinho shuffled the pack once more (Image: Man Utd via Getty Images)

With the first competitive fixture under a week away – Jose Mourinho is still very much searching for his magic formula.

He went for a 3-5-2 formation here, with Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia providing the width from wing-back, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan partnering Romelu Lukaku up front.

There were glimpses this could be the way to go, with United looking particularly dangerous on the counter attack, leading to Mkhitaryan’s opener.

Will they persist with it against Real next week?

3. Darmian impressive from wing-back

Darmian was impressive (Image: Getty Images)

Speaking of that 3-5-2 formation – one player that could profit from the change in system, should it become a regular occurrence, is Matteo Darmian.

He was very impressive from the left wing-back position, causing the Sampdoria defence problems every time he ventured forward.

His cross for Mkhitaryan’s goal was pinpoint, and he looks at home in that position.

We saw Victor Moses reignite his Chelsea career from wing-back – could it be a similar story for Darmian at Old Trafford?

4. Lindelof has another shaky moment

Lindelof had another heart-in-mouth moment (Image: AFP)

Victor Lindelof hasn’t had the most convincing of starts to life at Manchester United, and he had another hairy moment this evening.

The Swede almost put through his own net in the first period, getting his body shape all wrong as he attempted to clear.

He would have been counting his lucky stars as the ball ricocheted off him and narrowly wide of the post.

Lindelof was otherwise solid but it was another uncomfortable instance, and he will be wary of proving Jose Mourinho right when the season starts properly after his gaffer’s insistence that he needs time to adapt and will be a success.

5. Everyone loves an indirect free-kick from in the box

Blind’s back-pass almost proved costly (Image: Getty Images)

We don’t see enough indirect free-kicks from inside the 18-yard box. It’s a fact.

They’re great. They cause panic, they cause confusion, they often result in hilarity.

Early in the piece here, Daley Blind played a frankly shocking ball back to David De Gea, and the Spaniard had to handle it to prevent it going in.

Sampdoria were awarded an indirect free-kick on the edge of the six-yard box, and after several dummy takes, struck it into the ‘wall’, which was made up of 10 United players stood alongside De Gea on the goal line.

Great fun was had by all.

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