Debutant Ederson yet to fit like a glove at City

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku hitting a header past Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson before scoring during the International Champions Cup match in Houston, Texas. United won the game 2-0.
Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku hitting a header past Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson before scoring during the International Champions Cup match in Houston, Texas. United won the game 2-0.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HOUSTON • The latest edition of a fixture first played in 1881 was the story of an unimpressive debut from Ederson, the £34.7 million (S$61.5 million) Manchester City goalkeeper who was culpable for all two of Manchester United's strikes on Thursday.

Errors are a feature of close-season football and Ederson may still make more. Yet, given City's travails with No. 1s under manager Pep Guardiola, the hope will be the Brazilian settles quickly.

United and City had begun the 175th staging of this famous fixture - the first Manchester derby on foreign soil - by walking through billowing smoke into a darkened NRG Stadium in Houston lit up by a sea of supporters' phones.

The ballyhoo belied United manager Jose Mourinho's insistence in the build-up that this International Champions Cup pre-season game would be a glorified training exercise.

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This was City's opening tour match and United's third. In wins against Los Angeles Galaxy (5-2) and Real Salt Lake (2-1), Mourinho's outfit operated at a relative canter. The upturn in tempo here was noticeable as the two Premier League giants took turns to attack.

As the game wore on, Guardiola's men probed more though they were to end it behind due to Ederson's mistakes.

When Paul Pogba flipped a precise pass onto Romelu Lukaku's path, out rushed the 23-year-old. But he failed to take ball or man, and from a tight angle the United No. 9 swept home a neat finish.

This was in the 37th minute. United's second came just moments later and caused further scrutiny of Ederson.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan roved towards the area and switched play right to Marcus Rashford. He took aim and though the effort came hard and true, the 'keeper appeared close enough to the ball to stick out a glove. Instead, in it went, and United's lead was doubled.

For the second half, Guardiola made seven changes and Mourinho three. What did not change was the shaky nature of Ederson's bow.

From a position reminiscent of David Beckham's halfway-line beating of Wimbledon's Neil Sullivan in 1996, Rashford launched the ball at City's goal. The Brazilian scooted back anxiously and just managed to tip it over the bar.

United triumphed 2-0 but the real stuff starts in mid-August, on the new season's opening weekend.

"It was a very good training session," Mourinho said afterwards.

"We had to play well in the first half. The game had good intensity and the players are tired. I am really pleased and I'm sure Pep is the same. The result is not the most important thing."

Guardiola, meanwhile, shrugged off the loss, preferring to enthuse about the performance of teenager Phil Foden, a 17-year-old who has emerged from the club's youth set-up.

"It's a long time since I saw a performance like this - it was another level," said the Spaniard, who also confirmed that defender Aleksandar Kolarov was on his way out of the club, with Roma the likely destination.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2017, with the headline 'Debutant Ederson yet to fit like a glove at City'. Print Edition | Subscribe