Rashford breaks Perth resistance as Man United beat Perth Glory
Marcus Rashford broke Perth Glory’s resolve as Manchester United ran out 2-0 winners in a competitive encounter against Perth Glory.
United were held by a disciplined Glory outfit during the first 45 minutes at Optus Stadium where Perth goalkeeper Liam Reddy had an answer for everything that the English Premier League giants threw at them.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 11 changes at half-time as United's fresh legs began to overrun Glory. The Red Devils made the break through when Rashford’s 60th-minute laser, following Paul Pogba's deft flick, finally beat Reddy and found the bottom corner of the Hyundai A-League Premiers' net.
With Tony Popovic missing a host of senior players to injury, the Perth head coach called on his two sons Kristian, 17, and Gabriel, 15, before United substitute James Garner put the seal on the victory in the closing stages in front of the 50,206 in attendance.
Captained by Ashley Young, United named Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Daniel James in attack, while Glory recalled six of their Grand Final team with ex-Melbourne City striker Bruno Fornaroli leading the forward line and fellow new boy Jacob Tratt also making his debut.
It was clear from the off that head coach Tony Popovic had instructed his Perth players to sit deep and soak up the early pressure. United’s new signing from Swansea City, James, was causing problems with his runs in wide areas and Diogo Dalot slammed a shot over the bar.
As the Red Devils upped the tempo, Young fired a free-kick into the side netting before Martial rippled the outside netting on the other side after 26 minutes. Reddy was called into action with a diving fingertip save to deny Lingard’s strike from just outside the penalty area minutes later.
Chris Harold saw his shot blocked following Joel Chianese’s rampaging run in a rare bright moment for Perth and Nemanja Matic’s low drive was repelled by the faultless Reddy as the game remained a stalemate at half-time.
Solskjaer may have shuffled the pack at the interval but his new line up, which included a debut for right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, picked up where United left off in the first half with Mason Greenwood shooting just wide of the near post.
But, as the clock ticked past the hour mark, Rashford finally broke the deadlock. After collecting Paul Pogba’s back-heel flick with his back to goal, the England international swivelled and crashed a rifled shot past Reddy and into the corner.
United were showing their class with Juan Mata and Pogba pulling the strings, and Greenwood should have hit the target from close range on 65 minutes after Perth’s defence were carved open. Popovic called on his two sons to replace Chianese and Fornaroli on 76 minutes as Marcus Rojo and Chris Smalling headed over, before the result was confirmed by Garner.
The 18-year-old slotted home following a defensive mess on 85 minutes, only a minute after coming on a substitute for Luke Shaw. Greenwood almost made it three but saw his shot cannon back off the goal post in stoppage time and there was time for one more debut for another Glory 15-year-old, Josh Rawlings, as United closed out a 2-0 triumph.