Sancho stars in Manchester United draw with Villa

AFP , Saturday 23 Jul 2022

Winger Jadon Sancho continued his goal scoring form but Manchester United let slip a two-goal advantage to finish their pre-season tour of Asia and Australia with a 2-2 friendly draw against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Manchester United players
Players celebrate after Manchester United player Jadon Sancho (2nd-L) scored during a friendly match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Optus Stadium in Perth on July 23, 2022. AFP.

United, wearing their white away shirts, exhibited their newfound attacking flair in a dominant first half, but conceded a header to Villa's Calum Chambers in the dying seconds amid inclement conditions at Perth's Optus Stadium marked by a soggy pitch.

Under new coach Erik ten Hag, United wrapped up their tour with England national player Sancho a standout to notch his third goal from four friendlies.

They had earlier notched convincing victories over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace ahead of their Premier League opener against Brighton on August 7.

Steven Gerrard's Villa, who finished 14th in the Premier League last season, struggled to match United's energy early before storming back into the contest to finish without a defeat in their pre-season campaign.

Villa's Premier League opener is against Bournemouth on August 6.

After heavy rain and thunderstorms lashed Perth earlier in the day, there were fears the game might be cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch but the contest went ahead as scheduled.

Embattled skipper Harry Maguire, who copped jeering from fans in Melbourne last week reminiscent of the negative reaction he received last season, had a muted response from the near-capacity crowd of 58,228.

He was in the action early with a superb header that was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who was under siege.

The Argentine was helpless in the 24th minute when 22-year-old Sancho powerfully struck home the volley after Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford combined well on the left side.

Amid torrential rain just before half-time, Sancho continued to menace with a wicked cross smacking into Villa's Matty Cash for an own goal.

Ten Hag resisted making changes at half-time, but Gerrard's decision to bring on winger Leon Bailey proved inspired with the Jamaican nailing a long-range shot to claw Villa back into the contest.

The speedy Bailey threatened an equaliser against a new-look United -- after Ten Hag rang the changes in the 68th minute -- but it was Chambers who stepped up at the death.

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