International Red Devils: Lingard impresses, while Pogba nets a stunner

A number of Manchester United players featured for their countries during the latest round of international friendlies, in what was a crucial set of fixtures for the World Cup-bound countries, as their managers come close to finalizing their squads for the showpiece event. Sergio Romero, Marcos Rojo and Matteo Darmian were all on the bench and did not feature in Italy’s 0-2 loss to Argentina at the Etihad Stadium, where Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini got the goals; however, both Romero and Rojo started the subsequent game against Spain, which ended in a 6-1 demolition by the 2010 world champions. Romero had to go off injured inside 22 minutes after injuring himself in a clash with Diego Costa while the Atletico Madrid striker was scoring the first goal, while Rojo played the full 90 minutes. Isco got a hat-trick, alongside Costa, Thiago Alcantara and Iago Aspas strikes, while Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi scored the only goal for the Argentines past David de Gea. De Gea was in brilliant form in his earlier game against Germany, as the last two world champions played out a 1-1 draw. Rodrigo Moreno had put Spain in front, but Thomas Muller’s thunderbolt levelled the score, and de Gea made superb saves from Julian Draxler and Ilkay Gundogan to maintain the stalemate.

Nemanja Matic had mixed fortunes; his Serbia side were beaten 2-1 by Morocco, with Hakim Ziyech and Khalid Boutaib’s goals proving enough, notwithstanding Dusan Tadic’s equalizer. However, the Serbs beat Nigeria 2-0 on Tuesday night, with Alexander Mitrovic netting a brace to dispose of the Super Eagles. Paul Pogba had a similar set of results; he started the game against Colombia on the bench, where Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar had given Les Bleus a two-goal advantage, but goals from Luis Muriel and Radamel Falcao equalled the scores, before Juan Quintero’s late penalty got the South American side a shock win. Pogba came on in the second half for that game, and started the next one against Russia, where he netted a superb freekick and provided an assist for Kylian Mbappe, who got another goal as well in France’s eventual 3-1 win; Fyodor Smolov got the goal for the Russians. Anthony Martial did not feature in the first game, but started the second, and had a lively display, seeing three penalty appeals being turned down prior to being replaced close to the hour mark. Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard started England’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands, where Lingard scored his first international goal with a slick finish. Lingard’s performance earned him a starting berth against Italy at Wembley, where Ashley Young joined him, having come on as a substitute against the Dutch. Lingard got the assist for Jamie Vardy’s screamer, but a late, contentious penalty, scored by Lorenzo Insigne denied the Three Lions a win.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah, spending this campaign on loan at Crystal Palace, was an unused substitute against England, but earned his third senior cap against Portugal, coming on in the final minutes of a shock 3-0 win, where ex-Red Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel and Virgil van Dijk got the goals. Scott McTominay continued his rapid rise, making his international debut at Hampden Park, where Jose Mourinho was watching. Unfortunately, he could not prevent Costa Rica from coming away with the win, with Marco Urena scoring the only goal of the game. McTominay subsequently pulled out of the Scotland squad for their game against Hungary with an injury, although hopes are that he will be fit to play for United at the weekend. Alexis Sanchez and Victor Lindelof faced off against each other in Stockholm, with Chile securing a dramatic 2-1 win. Arturo Vidal had put the hosts in front, but Ola Toivonen equalized almost immediately, and it was Sanchez’s saved shot that was turned in by Marcos Bolados for Chile’s winner in injury time. Chile then played out a 0-0 draw with Denmark, while Lindelof sat out of Sweden’s defeat to Romania. Romelu Lukaku equalled the Belgium scoring record, netting twice in a 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia. Michy Batshuayi and Kevin de Bruyne got the other goals, while Marouane Fellaini was an unused substitute. Finally, Eric Bailly played the full 90 minutes in both of Ivory Coast’s games, first a 2-2 draw with Togo, followed by a 2-1 win over Moldova.