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Match Report & Player Ratings: Manchester United 1-0 Lyon

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Donny van de Beek grabbed the headlines in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over French side Lyon on Wednesday afternoon, with his goal proving the match winner in his side’s second pre-season fixture ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.

Van de Beek looked effortless as he nestled in a volley shortly after his half-time introduction to give his team the victory. The Dutchman, visibly overjoyed by scoring on his return after six months out injured, was part of a younger second half side that got the job done once again for manager Erik ten Hag, similarly to how they did in last week’s 2-0 win over Leeds United.

Jonny Evans remarkably made his second debut for United an entire eight years after his last appearance in 2015, with the Northern Irishman having recently signed a short-term deal that allows him to feature in pre-season fixtures to maintain fitness as he looks for a new club at 35 years of age.

With that said, Evans and his fellow defenders had very little to do across the ninety minutes as they kept a toothless Lyon side- led by former Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette- at bay.

How it went down

Greeted by a traditional Scottish bagpipes performance from above, the two sides soaked up new surroundings as they took centre stage at an almost packed Murrayfield Stadium in the Edinburgh sunshine. It was United, however, that brought the show early on.

Portuguese stopper Anthony Lopes blundered inside the first few minutes as a play out the back was gifted straight to Hannibal Mejbri in the middle. The Tunisian international fed it to Jadon Sancho who teed up Antony on the left of the area, but the latter failed to convert as Lopes made amends for his error.

Amad Diallo looked set to give his side the lead five minutes in when Mejbri’s high press forced a dodgy back-pass to the goalkeeper, yet the Ivorian dragged it wide of the post on his favoured left foot. The 21-year-old squandered another opportunity moments later when a high, central effort was kept out following Antony’s pulled-back cross from the left.

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Sancho’s blocked effort from outside the area and Mason Mount’s high and wide effort completed what could be described as an early onslaught from the Red Devils, but the score remained 0-0.

Ten Hag’s team continued to dominate the possession, with Kobbie Mainoo dictating the play with maturity beyond his years in the middle of the park, but chances were few and far between for both sides as the half progressed, aside from an underwhelming Mount free-kick and Lacazette’s effort into the side netting.

Alvaro Fernandez was perhaps lucky not to have given away a penalty in the 41st minute after a clumsy tangling of legs with Amin Sarr, but the referee waved it away and the sides headed into the interval goalless.

It was wholesale changes after the break from both Ten Hag and Laurent Blanc, the latter of whom was signed in his mid-thirties by Sir Alex Ferguson to replace Jaap Stam in 2001. Although, Matej Kovar kept his place for the full game in the absence of Tom Heaton.

On the topic of veteran centre-backs, Evans was one of the senior figures on the pitch to guide a relatively young second half team.

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Van de Beek combined brilliantly with Daniel Gore in the 49th minute to score the only goal of the game. 18-year-old Gore fired a superb cross into Van de Beek from the right as the latter cushioned it into the far corner on his right foot and wheeled away in what simply looked like sheer relief.

Somewhat underwhelmingly, the largest cheer of the half came from Evans’ sliding challenge as he rolled back the years midway through the second period. United’s youngsters, aided by the experience of Evans, Van de Beek, Fred and Brandon Williams, never looked under any serious pressure as the opposition failed to muster up a shot on target as the half petered out.

Final Score: Manchester United 1-0 Lyon (Van de Beek 49’)

Player ratings and lineups

First half: Matej Kovar (6), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (6), Raphael Varane (6), Lisandro Martinez (6), Alvaro Fernandez (6), Kobbie Mainoo (7), Mason Mount (6), Hannibal Mejbri (7), Antony (6), Jadon Sancho (6), Amad Diallo (6).

Second half: Matej Kovar (6), Marc Jurado (6), Will Fish (6), Jonny Evans (6), Brandon Williams (6), Daniel Gore (8), Fred (6), Donny van de Beek (7), Isak Hansen-Aaroen (8), Omari Forson (6), Joe Hugill (6).

Man of the match

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Gore was the latest United youngster to impress fans so far during the early stages of pre-season. The English midfielder was tenacious and combative in the defensive side to his game, whilst also being vibrant and creative in regard to his passing going forward, topped off by a delightful assist for Van de Beek just four minutes into his cameo.

It is difficult for all the players to drop a masterclass on the pitch in just forty-five minutes at the moment, but it is all about giving the manager some food for thought for the young players, and Gore did exactly that on Wednesday afternoon.

The bigger picture

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The anticipated clash against Lyon will not live long in the memory of United fans, yet it was good to see young players getting more minutes and more chances to impress, whilst it also being a good exercise for the senior players to build fitness ahead of the opening Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers in around one month’s time.

Van de Beek’s goal has got everybody- including himself- thinking about his future. The midfielder said after the game that “Every day, [something] can happen, so it’s hard to say now where my future will be”. The answer to the question ultimately lies with Ten Hag; only the manager will know whether or not the player can stay fit and whether or not the playmaker can offer the squad something going forward.

Mount seems to be fitting into the system nicely. He certainly looks comfortable after two games, so that can be considered a positive. Aside from notable contributions from Gore and Van de Beek, though, there is not a whole lot to take from the individual performances in the 1-0 victory.

At the time of writing, it has been widely and heavily reported that goalkeeper Andre Onana has completed his medical ahead of his move to United. It will be important that he gets on the plane to the United States and gets as involved in pre-season preparation as much as he possibly can, given how important it will be for the rest of the players to adapt to him, and vice-versa.

What is next?

Man United next face Arsenal on Saturday 22nd July at the MetLife Stadium in the USA, kicking off at 22:00 (BST). The game starts a four-match tour of America ahead of the new season.

After that, United take on Wrexham at the Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California. That one kicks-off at 03:30 (BST) on Wednesday 26th July.

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