In front of a packed MCG crowd of 76,499, Manchester United dispatched of a depleted Crystal Palace 3-1 in their third pre-season win.
United named a strong starting eleven, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho, David De Gea and Marcus Rashford beginning the match.
And it was the red-hot form of the front three of Sancho, Rashford and Anthony Martial that tore Palace apart in what was another impressive performance under new manager, Erik Ten Hag.
The first half was nearly all on United’s terms, holding much of the possession and attacking at will against the inexperienced Palace side.
The crowd helped to create a red hot game early, jeering a misplaced Harry Maguire pass and willing Martial into an early long-range attempt.
United fans saw new signing Tyrell Malacia start at left-back and was extremely lively, continuing on his promising start to life under Ten Hag.
Fellow Dutch international Donny van de Beek was full of praise for his international compatriot, saying post-game, “I think he did well.”
“At the end, maybe he was a bit tired as normal… I will be the same if I make that many minutes,” he said.
“I think he was great. In that first goal he had a great cross, a great switch to the other side.
“I know his quality and I know what he can do… I believe in him and he’s really positive from the first few weeks.”
It didn’t take long for Ten Hag’s rejuvenated United to take the lead, after a beautiful Diogo Dalot ball was placed onto Martial’s chest, who brought it down and scored from close range.
In former manager Ralf Rangnick’s last league game in charge, Palace defeated United 1-0 thanks to a Wilfried Zaha strike in the 37th minute.
Zaha didn’t make the trip to Australia with the squad, with Palace instead lining up with new signing Malcolm Ebiowei, Jean-Phillipe Mateta and Jordan Ayew in attack.
Ebiowei began the game well, forcing a save out of De Gea after dribbling around Fred on the right side. He then found Jesurun Rak-Sakyi in the box not long after, who skied his shot.
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Goalkeeper Jack Butland, who replaced Vicente Guaita in the starting lineup from Crystal Palace’s last outing, injured his hand early in the game and had to be replaced by reserve Remi Matthews.
Palace came into the contest with a young squad, as many first-team players remained in England and off the tour, meaning United had a sizable advantage on the team sheet.
The first half was a fiery affair with 11 fouls between the sides, showing signs of intensity that is unusual for a pre-season match.
This continued through to the second half, when Ayew produced a hard foul and got into a scuffle with Fred.
United’s ball movement was noticably improved from last season, with pace on the counter-attack and a willingness to cross the ball in to the exciting Martial from the wings.
It was in the second half when United began to play at will, as Sancho, Martial and half-time substitute van de Beek combined to allow Rashford the easiest of finishes in a scintillating play just three minutes in.
This passage was symbolic of United all night, as they used creativity and flair to pick apart the Palace defence.
United took just 10 more minutes to score again, with United’s front three of Rashford, Martial and Sancho wreaking havoc once more, with Sancho getting on the scoresheet for the third goal.
After mass substitutions from both sides, Palace was able to peg one back with a header from Joel Ward, of which De Gea couldn’t keep out despite making contact.
Palace made four changes in the 64th minute, while United made a whopping eight, allowing Ten Hag to effectively rotate to his reserves squad and remove his front three from the game.
The attacking trio for United looked damaging throughout the contest, with fluid passing allowing for multiple chances at goal for each of them.
Ten Hag, while remaining cautious about his side so early in the year, admitted post-game that he was impressed with his teams performance, especially his goal scoring trio.
“We scored some wonderful goals,” the manager said.
“The 2-0, especially, was a great goal.”
While discussing the changes he has made since arriving, Ten Hag has been pleased by his squad, stating, “I see progression day to day and that has to be.”
“We have to be ready for the Premier League and it’s good today that we have a Premier League team.”
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