Man Utd ended their US tour in defeat as Neymar’s first-half goal gave Barcelona a 1-0 win in the International Champions Cup in Maryland.
In a first half full of chances, Neymar gave Barcelona the lead on 31 minutes, capitalising on Antonio Valencia’s mistake to fire home from close range.
Neymar put in a fine performance, seemingly unaffected by speculation linking him with a move to PSG, and it stayed 1-0 despite both Jasper Cillessen and David de Gea making several fine stops.
The defeat at FedExField was United’s first in pre-season, having beaten LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Man City and Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho made eight changes from the starting XI following the penalty shoot-out win over Real Madrid last week, bringing back Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba.
Both goals were peppered in the first half, as Barcelona came close on several occasions only to be denied by De Gea.
The Spaniard got down well to tip wide Luis Suarez’s effort from the left of the box, and again denied Suarez by superbly tipping wide his overhead kick after the opening goal.
But United had chances of their own. Lukaku poked over on the stretch in the opening minutes, Marcus Rashford saw a shot from an acute angle beaten away by Cillessen, and Paul Pogba’s ambitious 30-yard half-volley was tipped wide.
But after some fine goalkeeping at both ends, it was some sloppy defending that allowed Barcelona to take the lead. Having cut out Lionel Messi’s through ball, Valencia then turned into the danger and allowed Neymar to wrestle the ball off him and score from six yards.
The game simmered down in the second half as Barcelona made 10 substitutions and United made five, though Mourinho’s side did come close through Anthony Martial’s curling effort, which went just over.
United looked for an equalizer but couldn’t find it, and Mourinho will be eager to check on Jesse Lingard’s fitness after the 24-year-old was brought off with what looked to be a groin injury.
Man of the match – Neymar
He may have only played 45 minutes, but the Brazilian was at his best for Barcelona, showing them exactly what they’d be missing if he signed for PSG.
Neymar gave Antonio Valencia a tough time on the left in the first half, forcing the Ecuadorian into a mistake for the only goal of the game, but his all-round attacking game was superb.
Why does the Messi-Neymar-Suarez triumvirate work so well? Pure ability, of course, but also unselfishness.
The trio always pick the best pass and make the best runs for the team, not for themselves, evident in the first half as Barca produced a flurry of clear-cut chances via some lightning quick pass and move.
Neymar has a box of tricks, we know, but he’s much more than that, and his teamwork is often underestimated. He’ll be extremely difficult to replace if the world-record move goes ahead.
Mourinho’s side now fact Valerenga IF in Oslo on July 30, before completing pre-season with a clash against Sampdoria in Dublin on August 2. United then face Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Macedonia on August 8.Euro Soccer Bonus
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