Premier League International Cup
Manchester United vs. Villarreal
Venue: Leigh Sports Village
Date: Tuesday, 13 September 2016
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Manchester United began their Premier League International Cup campaign with a 1-0 victory against Villarreal.
Josh Harrop scored the only goal of the game against a Spanish side that kept the ball well but couldn’t find a break through.
Kick-off was delayed by an hour after floodlight failure due to the persistent storms surrounding the North West, but Warren Joyce’s outfit did enough to seal an important win.
Villarreal started the game brighter than their all yellow kit, with Edgar Ie and Jose Lazo both off target when in good positions.
Harrop then dragged a shot wide before giving United the lead midway through the first half.
It was Ethan Hamilton’s tackle that allowed him to race clear, before threading a pass through to Harrop, who tucked away a neat first time finish on his weaker left foot.
Visiting captain Felipe saw a shot held, before Sam Johnstone did likewise from Daniel Raba’s free-kick as United entered half-time with the lead.
The second half started with skipper Axel Tuanzebe popping up in an unusual position, and he forced Juan Femenias into palming away a powerful attempt.
Charlie Scott’s speculative free-kick from far out dropped over as Matty Willock’s shot from the angle was held.
A resurgent yellow submarine pushed for an equaliser, with Raba’s long range effort nearly catching Johnstone off-guard, as Mario Gonzalez struck the inside of the post moments later.
Joe Riley fired wide late on as full-time arrived amidst the rain-soaked Leigh Sports Village.
Despite the low scoreline, it was an entertaining game, and credit to both sides for putting on a show after difficult and delayed preparations.
This is the first time United have entered this particular competition which commenced in the 2014/15 season, and they begin by defeating the holders.
Up next is a return to domestic action, with Derby County visiting Old Trafford next Monday in a 7pm kick-off.
Manchester United: Johnstone; El Fitouri, Tuanzebe, Poole, Riley; Redmond (Olosunde 46); Scott, McTominay, Harrop (Kehinde 81), Hamilton (Mitchell 90+5); Willock.
Subs not used: Henderson, Doughty, O’Connor.
Manager: Warren Joyce
Villarreal: Femenias; Ie, Bueno, Fernandez, Felipe (Peris 46); Morlanes, Guerra; Garcia (Martinez 54), Raba, Lazo (Cantalapiedra 65); Gonzalez.
Subs not used: Cantero, Acosta, Lopez, Duffo.
Manager: Paco Lopez