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27 July 2017

Manchester United 0 Barcelona 1: Neymar hits winner to down Red Devils in Maryland as he continues fine pre-season form

MANCHESTER UNITED are back in the Champions League, and out here in the States Jose Mourinho was glad to remind his players of the step up.

In the last two games against Real Madrid and Barcelona they were up against two clubs who have won six of the last nine finals in that competition.

Neymar scored in the first half as Barcelona beat Man United in Maryland
Neymar scored in the first half as Barcelona beat Man United in Maryland
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Neymar celebrates after his first-half goal at FedEx Field
Neymar celebrates after his first-half goal at FedEx Field
AFP or licensors

There was a time when the Red Devils were their equals, they have slipped well off that lofty pedestal that the two Spanish giants own.

But even in friendlies out here in the States there were positive signs that they can climb back.

True they were friendlies, a lot of changes in the second half and Real did not have the great Cristiano Ronaldo.

Still, they drew with Real Madrid and went on to beat them in a penalty shoot-out.

Against a Barcelona including that incredible front line of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez for the first period, they could easily have pulled out another creditable draw.

Before a huge, loud, enthusiastic crowd of 80,162 in Washington’s FedEx Field they played out a game which was undoubtedly the highlight of their five match US tour – the first half at least.

Barcelona got the better of Man United in their clash in Landover, Maryland
Barcelona got the better of Man United in their clash in Landover, Maryland
Reuters
Neymar continued his hot form in pre-season after two goals against Juventus
Neymar continued his hot form in pre-season after two goals against Juventus
AFP or licensors
Neymar slots home for Barcelona in the first half at FedEx Field
Neymar slots home for Barcelona in the first half at FedEx Field
Getty Images – Getty


That thrilled the crowd with end to end football and it could have finished two a piece.

At the break Barcelona’s seven shots on target to United’s three proved they had the edge.

They also had Lionel Messi. You just can’t get bored watching those quick feet switch the ball from side to side as he threads his way through the narrowest of gaps.

It was his ball into the box on 31 minutes that left Antonio Valencia in a tangle and allowed Neymar to turn on the ball and slot it past David de Gea.

Goodness knows why Neymar would want to leave this Barca side for Paris Saint-Germain but overnight rumours were gathering pace that a five-year deal had been agreed and this could be his last game.

Paul Pogba battles with Lionel Messi during the friendly in the US
Paul Pogba battles with Lionel Messi during the friendly in the US
Getty – Contributor
Lionel Messi unleashes a shot at the Man United goal
Lionel Messi unleashes a shot at the Man United goal
Getty
Romelu Lukaku had an early chance but couldn't quite reach a cross from the right
Romelu Lukaku had an early chance but couldn’t quite reach a cross from the right
Rex Features

Either side of that goal United had their chances.

Paul Pogba hit a half volley on the run that stung the hands of Jasper Cillesen.

Marcus Rashford crashed through two tackles and shot to the near post which the Real goalkeeper had guarded.

Then just before the break Pogba’s cross just failed to find the sliding boot of Lukaku.

Barca had chances to increase their lead too as Messi curled a free kick just over and De Gea made a stunning save from Suarez’s scissor kick.

It was a shame so many changes were made at the break as this had been a real contest.

Neymar in action for Barcelona with his future still yet to be decided
Neymar in action for Barcelona with his future still yet to be decided
AFP or licensors

Romelu Lukaku tangles with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Rex Features

Romelu Lukaku tangles with Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets[/caption]

Luis Suarez attempts an overhead kick during the first half
Luis Suarez attempts an overhead kick during the first half
Getty Images – Getty
Jose Mourinho saw his side fall to their first defeat on their five-game US tour
Jose Mourinho saw his side fall to their first defeat on their five-game US tour
Reuters

United made five and Real took off all ten outfield players depriving the crowd of more entertainment from the Messi, Suarez and Neymar triumvirate.

The changes sucked the life out the game and the atmosphere out the crowd.

United could not force the goal that would have given them an unbeaten tour with three wins to go with that draw and penalty kick triumph over Real.

Of course they will meet Real again soon on the 8th August in a far more important fixture as they contest the European Super Cup in Skopje, Macedonia.

Then Mourinho may get an even better gauge of where United stand going into this season’s Champions League.

Over 80,000 fans were in attendance for the friendly at FedEx Field
Over 80,000 fans were in attendance for the friendly at FedEx Field
Getty – Contributor

 

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