Football: United continue winning form under ten Hag, announce Eriksen signing

Manchester United beat Melbourne Victory 4-1 on July 15, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Manchester United's bright pre-season form under new manager Erik ten Hag continued with a 4-1 win over Australian side Melbourne Victory in a friendly on Friday (July 15).

Having thrashed a flat Liverpool 4-0 in Bangkok on Tuesday, United shrugged off an early Victory goal with a two-goal burst late in the first half.

Substitute Marcus Rashford grabbed a third late on at the Melbourne Cricket Ground before a Victory own goal saw the hosts slump to a heavy defeat.

For all the goals, it was a largely workmanlike display from United, who made heavy weather of the four-time A-League champions for parts of the contest in front of a heaving crowd of more than 70,000.

Victory had the best of the early exchanges and went ahead after five minutes when Chris Ikonomidis latched onto a Ben Folami cross and fired past Tom Heaton, replacement goalkeeper for the injured David de Gea.

United soon steadied, however, and began peppering the Victory goal.

Bruno Fernandes was denied by a fine save by new Victory goalkeeper Paul Izzo 25 minutes in but Scott McTominay put United on the board a few minutes from the break, benefiting from a deflection that looped over Izzo.

Anthony Martial slotted United's second in injury time from close range after a neat flick from Anthony Elanga.

"We're still learning, we're still adapting to the ways that he wants us to do things," McTominay said of ten Hag.

"Obviously the boys are really happy and they're training really hard and obviously that comes with it, the joy of playing for United and a new coach as well."

Centre-back Harry Maguire was back in United's starting line-up and played for a half after being rested for the Liverpool match with an unspecified injury.

He was one of three changes to the starting XI from Bangkok, along with Heaton and Elanga.

Ten Hag made a raft of substitutions for the second half and the match meandered until Eric Bailly laced a neat through ball to Rashford, who snuck a low shot under a lunging Izzo in the 78th minute.

A roar went out from the Victory crowd as new recruit Nani, the former United winger and Champions League winner, was substituted on with a few minutes left.

United also on Friday announced the arrival of Christian Eriksen on a free transfer with the Danish playmaker signing a three-year deal.

Eriksen, who needed life-saving treatment on the pitch last year when he suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest in a European Championship match against Finland in June, returned to action with Brentford after signing a short-term deal in January.

Eriksen is United’s second recruit in the close season after Dutch left-back Tyrell Malacia.

“Manchester United is a special club and I cannot wait to get started. I have had the privilege of playing at Old Trafford many times but to do it in the red shirt of United will be an amazing feeling,” Eriksen said in a statement.

“I have seen Erik’s work at Ajax and know the level of detail and preparation that he and his staff put into every day.

“It is clear that he is a fantastic coach.

“Having spoken with him and learned more about his vision and the way he wants the team to play, I am even more excited for the future.”

Eriksen was an Inter Milan player when he collapsed and underwent surgery to be fitted with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) device – which is not permitted in the Italian Serie A – leading to the termination of his contract.

After signing for Brentford, he made 11 league appearances under Danish coach Thomas Frank, scoring a goal and providing four assists as Brentford finished 13th in their first season in the Premier League.

He is no stranger to the Premier League, however, having spent nearly seven seasons with Tottenham Hotspur, making more than 300 appearances in all competitions for the London side.

He also resumed his Denmark career, scoring against Serbia on his return to the Parken Stadium where he had collapsed.

“I still have major ambitions in the game, there is a huge amount that I know I can achieve, and this is the perfect place to continue my journey,” Eriksen added.

United, who finished sixth last season and failed to qualify for the Champions League, kick off the new Premier League season with a home game against Brighton & Hove Albion on Aug 7.

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