Manchester United ended their pre-season friendlies with a final game against a team composed of semi-professional players from the Ireland league, and for this game registered the return of those who were involved in the World Cup, including Rooney, Park, Vidic and also players who were out injured, like Owen and Valencia. It was more a night of celebration for the Red Devils as they won comfortably, 7-1, with a good all-round performance.
Rooney’s return was a much awaited one by the fans, but he was not the hero of the night, as Park was on hand to steal the show. He scored a double, his first one coming from blocking a defender’s clearance, which hit his shin and went in past the keeper. Rooney missed a glorious opportunity on the 23rd minute, but minutes later Owen celebrated his comeback from injury with a goal. The score remained at 2-0 in United’s favor for half-time.
Hernandez, who came on at half-time for Rooney, then scored with his first touch of the ball as he swept a low cross from Valencia into the net. On the hour mark Valencia got on the scoresheet himself after collecting a super pass and finishing with a left-foot shot. Then it was the turn of Park again to score his second as he curled one beautifully into the far corner, while Evans was on hand to head home a corner some minutes later.
The League of Ireland XI got in the game as well as Mulcahy slotted one past Amos to give his team a consolation goal, but at the other end, on the 81st minute, Hernandez won a penalty, and it was Nani who took the responsibility to convert United’s 7th of the night, although he later hit the cross-bar which could have been the 8th. Amos then reacted superbly to save a close range header, thus keeping the scoreline to 7-1 in United’s favor, and ending the pre-season on a high note.
Next stop will be against Chelsea for the Community Shield this weekend, and if United go with full confidence they can no doubt lift their first silverware of the new season.
United: Kuszczak (Amos 64); Evans, Smalling, Vidic, O’Shea; Valencia, Carrick (Fletcher 37), Gibson, Park (Nani 64); Rooney (Hernandez 45), Owen (Berbatov 45).
Ireland XI: Rogers (Doherty 70); Shelley, Powell, Peers (Kenna 54), Oman; Williams (Ryan 64), Keegan, Madden (Sheppard 64), Ndo (O’Brien 70); Brennan (Kirby 45), Guy (Mulcahy 70).