The eyes of the soccer world were on Texas on Thursday night as Manchester United managed a 2-0 win over Manchester City at Houston’s NRG Stadium in front of 67,401 fans.
“It was a good training session,” said Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho after the match. “We had to play well, especially when the game had more quality. I’m really pleased and I’m sure Pep (Guardioloa, Manchester City coach) is the same. It was high quality training, because the teams are good, the stadium is amazing, and the fans are fantastic, everything was very good… The quality of the work has been good and it has been good propaganda for the club.”
“It was our first game, and one team is a little further on in their preparation,” said Pep Guardiola, Manchester City coach. “It was a physical test but there were many, many good things about the match.”
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for Manchester United in the 38th minute as he tracked down the ball and rounded Ederson Moraes in the City goal. That pushed Lukaku wide but he somehow buried it from an impossible angle.
Just one minute later United doubled their lead from a rapid counter attack as Henrikh Mkhitaryan made a strong run. That run drew the attention of the City defense, leaving Marcus Rashford open on the right, forcing Moraed out, Rashford shot across the face and into the back of the net.
“We don’t have any fullbacks,” said Guardiola, “we’d like to sign more before the season, but we don’t have other options right now… Kolarov is moving to Roma.”
The crowd was in to the match from warm ups, feeling every moment of the first ever Manchester Derby played outside of the United Kingdom.
“We were really impressed,” said Guardiola “when we were here at the stadium yesterday (Wednesday), I saw the stadium, and I thought it was impossible and I thought no way a full crowd, hopefully the fans enjoyed it, but I was really impressed.”
Manchester United had the first clear chance of the match as a ball fell out to Ander Herrera from 25 yards. He did well to get a shot away, but hit it right at Ederson Moraes in the City goal allowing him to save.
City started to respond in the eighth minute as Raheem Stirling was able to use his footwork to reate space for himself. United gave the City midfielder too much space allowing him to get a shot away, but right at David De Gea.
The match came alive in the 21st minute after some fancy footwork allowed United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan through. He created the space for the shot but it too close to Moraes which allowed him to save.
Stirling was continuing to be the star for City, and in the 26th minute very nearly put his side ahead as he found space on the edge of the area. Stirling did well and got a powerful shot away which was denied by a strong save from de Gea.
Chris Smalling was the only man stopping United conceding on the half hour mark as slick passing from City opened up United. But twice Smalling put his body on the line, blocking two shots in quick succession to keep it scoreless.
Lukaku nearly had his brace in the 53rd minute after a poor control from City defender Vincent Kompany. That allowed Lukaku to pounce and he hit a powerful shot which beat Moraes but could only find the post, allowing City to clear.
“I would like my whole squad to be here, we need one more player, when you look at Lukaku and his performance, having the whole squad here would be good.” said Mourinho.
City had their best chance in the 75th minute after Sergio Romero failed to fully clear a cross in to the box. The ball fell out to City defender Brahim Diaz with the keeper stranded but he couldn’t keep the chip down sending it over the bar.
Moraes was the hero for City in the 77th minute as he denied United on three occasions after initially saving Marouane Fellaini’s shot. The rebound fell to Phil Jones, who shot three times from point blank range only to be denied all three times.
City attacked in the final 15 minutes of the match but it was ultimately too little too late, and Manchester United claimed the 2-0 win.