Manchester United 1-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Walker 23′ OG
An own-goal from Kyle Walker gave Manchester United a win over Tottenham at Old Trafford in the opening game of the 2015-16 Premier League season.
Walker inadvertently poked the ball past Tottenham goalkeeper Michel Vorm after 30 minutes as he tracked Wayne Rooney’s run into the Spurs penalty area and stuck a foot into the United captain’s stride.
It was enough to give all three points to United, who earned only two points from their first three games last season after defeat to Swansea on the opening day.
Spurs initially started the brighter of the two sides Christian Eriksen had an excellent chance to put Spurs 1-0 up after 20 minutes with a looping volley that narrowly cleared Romero’s crossbar.
But then Walker’s own-goal seemed to deflate Spurs and in the second half, their lack of pressing gave the home side plenty of time to keep the ball away from the visitors and see out the win.
It was a decent, if patchy performance from Louis van Gaal’s new-look side who waited until the 60th minute to register their first and only shot on target.
There were debuts for several of United’s summer signings including Sergio Romero, Morgan Schneiderlin, Matteo Darmian and Memphis Depay. Bastian Schweinsteiger replaced Michael Carrick as a 60th-minute substitute.
Darmian, signed from Torino for £12 million, was arguably the most impressive of the debutants, producing an assured and responsible defensive performance alongside Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw.
United began with Rooney and Depay paired together in attack, with Schneiderlin, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young and Juan Mata in midfield.
Romero started in goal for Manchester Untied after Louis van Gaal said David de Gea, who continues to be pursued by Real Madrid, could not “manage” being in the matchday squad.
Romero, preferred to the young English goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, was rarely threatened until the 88th minute, when he was forced to make two smart saves down low to his right first from a defensive header from Chris Smalling and then from a low drive from Eriksson as Mauricio Pochettino’s side pressed for an equalizer.
Louis van Gaal praised the performances of his new signings after game, saying it was “always difficult” for new players to get accustomed to their new surroundings.
“I liked the performance, especially of [Matteo] Darmian because he played a good match [when] in possession and when the opponent had the ball. Sergio Romero kept [a clean sheet]. Romero is only one week with us, and that is a process.”
Meanwhile David De Gea’s transfer saga continues to drag on and Van Gaal, when asked whether he wanted to see the De Gea situation resolved, suggested that Real Madrid were not meeting United’s valuation of the goalkeeper.
“He is our best player for two or three years already, chosen by the fans, so we cannot let him go easily.
“We have to pay a lot of money for the players we want and we want to sell at the same level. We want to keep him of course.”
Wayne Rooney said that the side would need a little more time to settle and that winning the game was the team’s first priority.
“We’re still working of course,” he said. “This preseason has been relatively short compared to previous ones. We’ve worked hard and all that work went into getting the three points and we’ve done that.
“We have a couple of days now to go over the game to see what we’ve done well and what we haven’t, and we’ll then start preparing for [Aston] Villa.”
Manchester United: Romero, Darmian (Valencia 80), Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Mata, Schneiderlin, Young, Carrick (Schweinsteiger 60), Depay (Herrera 68), Rooney.
Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier (Alli 77), Bentaleb (Davies 54), Chadli, Eriksen, Dembele, Kane