Juan Mata scored from the penalty spot in the 92 minutes to give Manchester United victory against boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s home-town club.
United looked to be heading for a draw in their fifth pre-season game of the summer, but Mata brought down by goalkeeper Andreas Vaikla, stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick.
It means United have won all five of their tour games this summer, scoring 10 goals and conceding just once, ahead of their final pre-season game, against AC Milan, in Cardiff, on Saturday.
Just as they have done all tour, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James, United’s two summer signings, have linked up well down the right side and developed an impressive understanding.
Their pace, quick feet and intuitive understanding of where the other is, has given United a strong threat from out wide. Wan-Bissaka, a £50million buy from Crystal Palace, has filled a problem position for United, while the relentless energy of James, and his willingness to press opponents high all over the pitch, is another plus for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
James, 21, a £15m buy from Swansea, looks set to start the United’s Premier League opener at home to Chelsea on August 11.
With the exception of Paul Pogba, introduced on the hour, and any new arrivals before transfer deadline day, the side that started here is likely to be Solskjaer’s line-up to face Chelsea in United’s Premier League opener at Old Trafford on August 11.
The man to make way for Pogba is Scott McTominay, although the Academy graduate, who made his breakthrough under Jose Mourinho a couple of seasons ago, has proved to be a dependable midfield presence and a more than adequate replacement for Ander Herrera, who left for PSG as a free agent this summer.
Nemanja Matic and Pogba are Solskjaer’s first-choice central midfield pairing, but McTominay, who looked assured here and came close to scoring in the first half, hitting a post just after the half-hour mark, is doing all he can to push for a regular place.
United are maintaining their pursuit of Leicester and England centre-half Harry Maguire, with a view to partnering him with Victor Lindelof.
Solskjaer has tried out five other central defenders on tour – Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe – and while United have conceded just once in five games, it is clear none have impressed the United boss enough for him to end his interest in Maguire.
United was rarely troubled at the back by Kristiansund, dominating possession throughout and dictating the game, but the home side came close to scoring after the break with a header from Haris Cirak, underlining the need for an imposing centre-back of Maguire’s stature, dominant in the air, to firm up United’s defence.
One United fan at the game is convinced Maguire is a done deal, sporting a home kit shirt with Maguire and the No.5 on the back.
Prior to kick-off against Kristiansund, word came through that United had opened talks with Juventus about a potential move for their Argentina playmaker Paulo Dybala, potentially in a swap deal involving Romelu Lukaku.
This game was certainly crying out for a player of Dybala’s influence, with the ability to unlock stubborn defences, something United was unable to do here. It is easy to see why Dybala is such an attractive proposition for United – he is versatile, being able to play anywhere across the front three and is capable of providing that ‘X-factor’ of which Solskjaer has said he wants from his United team.
United have an abundance of attacking talent in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and new signing James, but Dybala would give their attack an extra dimension and edge, something sorely lacking in recent seasons.
Solskjaer’s playing days may be behind him, but his eldest son Noah, 19, drew arguably the biggest cheer of the night when he came on with five minutes to go for his senior debut for Kristiansund.
While his father was a prolific forward, Solskjaer Jnr is a deep-lying midfielder, whose idol growing up was former United midfielder Michael Carrick, now part of his dad’s coaching staff at Old Trafford.
Noah did not have much time to make his mark on the game, but his dad, who also had his younger son Elijah sat next to him on the United bench, came across from the opposing dugout to give his son an encouraging pat on the back before he came on.
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Source – Mirror