Barclays Premiership Roundup: Man U’s statement

Former champions Manchester United made a statement of intent under new manager Louis van Gaal, when they beat long time rivals 3-1 for the International Champions title on Monday.

Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard

Just a week after the Dutch mentor said he was not happy with a disjointed side he inherited from David Moyes, Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney scored two minutes apart in the second half, as the former English champions rallied to beat the team that achieved a league double over them last season.

Jesse Lingard added a goal in the 88th minute for United, who remained unbeaten under van Gaal, as they prepared for a new season that begins next weekend.

Rooney volleyed home in the 55th minute after he received a long cross from Javier Hernandez, before Mata got the go-ahead goal shortly afterward and United held on to capture the eight-team event.

Liverpool had drawn first blood with a Steven Gerrard penalty kick in the 14th minute. It was only a preseason game, but whenever these two sides are involved, their fans always want to see the best of their team as they believe that is how pedigree is to be proven.

For now, United fans have all the bragging rights – at least till the next meet. There is certainly no such thing as a true “friendly” between these clubs — who have combined for 38 English championships and well over 100 trophies worldwide.

Even the players themselves show it on the pitch that there is never a meaningless game between the sides. The fighting spirit they always exhibit in their duels reveals a hidden agenda to remain at the top. Rooney summed the emotion up when, after timing his run perfectly to knock the volley into the far side of the net, he leaped and punched the air.

Even the protests from the United players when Liverpool got their penalty showed their intent to win the game at all costs. Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling chased down a ball on the left side of the box near the goal line, as Manchester United’s Phil Jones scurried over to defend.

Jones went for a slide tackle and while replays showed he appeared to make contact with the ball, the play also sent Sterling to the grass — and referee Mark Geiger was right when he immediately signalled for a penalty kick.

Gerrard went one way, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea guessed the other, and Liverpool got a well-deserved lead – but could not hold on to it. Manchester United went back to the winners’ podium as they lifted the trophy last won by Real Madrid when they beat Chelsea last season.

Brendan Rogers has at least a week to refine The Super Reds and make them that “invincible” force they were for some time last season – and he has both the technical ability and indeed, the arsenal he needs for that.

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