José Mourinho defended Antonio Valencia after he was sent off in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, with the manager saying he disagreed with the decision of referee, Allen Chapman, to show the right-back a straight red on 68 minutes for going through the back of Sebastian Saucedo.
Chapman acted after offering Mourinho the chance to replace Valencia rather than he be dismissed. Yet afterwards Mourinho said: “I think the delay was because the referee asked me to change the player and I didn’t because I don’t agree with the card because Saucedo was really aggressive in second half. That’s what happens. Some other actions were a bit dangerous.
“It’s young people with enthusiasm playing against Manchester United but it’s a friendly match and it’s a different mentality. But it’s pre-season so no problem. It is good experience or us to play with one player less.”
A Saucedo challenge had earlier forced Juan Mata off just before the hour. The Spaniard was seen afterwards walking freely and he said, “I’m alright, it’s just a twist”. Mourinho confirmed it should not be a concern. “Mata has a big ankle but I hope nothing important. A few days, a week probably.”
United’s winner was scored by Romelu Lukaku’s first strike for the club, which came as half-time neared. “It’s just nice for him, not important for me,” said Mourinho of his new signing. “Before he scored the goal I told him I love everything you do on the pitch. Don’t be worried about scoring or not scoring. He gets behind people, works and pressers well. Like everything he does. It’s easy to feel it because he was my player four years ago. His evolution has been great. He’s now a top striker. The goal is just a detail, not important.”
Before Lukaku’s goal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan had equalised Luis Silva’s opener for Real. The victory means United have won each of their two opening tour games, as they prepare to face Manchester City in Houston…