UPDATE: Marcus Rashford and youngster James Garner thrilled Manchester United’s thousands of supporters as the Premier League giants defeated Perth Glory 2-0 at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
Glory were proving a stubborn nut to crack until England striker Rashford fired low across Liam Reddy to break the deadlock on the hour.
And seven minutes from the end a tiring Glory were punished as they tried to play out from the back. Neil Kilkenny slipped and allowed substitute Garner to fire in from outside the box just a couple of minutes after he had come on for Luke Shaw.
In truth it was the least United’s star-studded side deserved against a Glory team lacking a number of the side who finished top of the Hyundai A-League, including Diego Castro, Andy Keogh and Chris Ikonomidis.
In the first half Ashley Young hit the side netting with a curling free-kick, keeper Liam Reddy saved acrobatically to deny Jesse Lingard, while Wales winger Daniel James – a recent $30million signing from Swansea City – tormented the Glory backline.
United made 11 changes at half-time, introducing the likes of Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford.
And it was Rashford who finally struck on 60 minutes. Kilkenny’s clearance went only as far as Mata, whose header found Pogba. The France star produced a clever back-heel to Rashford and he turned and shot first time to leave Reddy with no chance.
Mason Greenwood wasted a good chance not long after but Garner made no mistake when he picked the ball up following a stray Glory pass, shooting low past substitute keeper Tando Velaphi.
Greenwood then hit the post as Glory struggled to stem the tide.
Despite the result it was a fantastic night for Glory, who had two 15-year-olds on the pitch at the final whistle. Coach Tony Popovic’s son Gabriel and Joshua Rawlins will head back to school after the holidays with a story to tell after going up against the likes of Pogba, Rashford and Mata.
Popovic’s other son, Kristian, also came on and afterwards the coach said he was delighted as a father seeing his two children playing against United.
“The players should be proud, the families should be proud, Perth Glory should be proud and the A-League should be proud,” he said.
Popovic added: “We lost the ball twice (for United’s two goals) and that showed you the quality they have.”
Popovic said his side had no option but to defend in numbers, otherwise they risked losing by “seven, eight or nine”.
United midfielder Mata praised the stadium and the club’s support Down Under.
“It was incredible. The stadium, the fans that we have here in Australia, and we are happy with the game also,” Mata said.
“We had fantastic facilities, the fans are incredible. For me, it’s the first time [in Australia] so I am happy to here and we are very grateful to all of our Australian fans.”
Manchester United return to Optus Stadium on Wednesday to face Championship side Leeds United.
Glory’s next competitive match is in the FFA Cup against Western Sydney Wanderers at Perth SC’s Dorrien Gardens on August 7.
Star player: Daniel James (Manchester United)
Manchester United 2 (Rashford 60min, Garner 85)
Perth Glory 0
Saturday, July 13
Referee: Alex King
Assistant referees: David Walsh, Josh Mannella
MANCHESTER UNITED: (GK) 22. Sergio ROMERO (RGK 40. Joel PEREIRA 46), 4. Phil JONES (12. Chris SMALLING 46), 11. Anthony MARTIAL (10. Marcus RASHFORD 46), 14. Jesse LINGARD (26. Mason GREENWOOD), 15. Anders PEREIRA (23. Luke SHAW 46) (37 James GARNER 83), 18. Ashley YOUNG (c) (6. Paul POGBA 46) 20. Diogo DALOT (39. Scott McTOMINEY 46), 21. Daniel JAMES (28. Angel GOMES 46), 31. Nemanja MATIC (29. Aaron WAN-BISSAKA 46), 38. Axel TUANZEBE (16. Marcus ROJO 46) 44. Tahith CHONG (8. Juan MATA 46)
Unused substitutes: (RGK) 1. David DE GEA
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
PERTH GLORY: (GK) 33. Liam REDDY (RGK 1. Tando VELAPHI), 3. Jacob TRATT, 4. Shane LOWRY, 5. Ivan FRANJIC (12. Joshua RAWLINS 90+1), 7. Joel CHIANESE (29. Kristian POPOVIC 76), 10. Bruno FORNAROLI (18. Gabriel POPOVIC 76), 14. Chris HAROLD (26. Nick D’AGOSTINO 60), 16. Tomislav MRCELA, 20. Jake BRIMMER (15. Brandon WILSON 60), 27. JUANDE, 88. Neil KILKENNY
Unused substitutes: 6. Luca BODNAR, 11. Ethan BROOKS
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil