SALT LAKE CITY
Romelu Lukaku bagged his first goal in a Manchester United shirt on Monday as the Premier League giants laboured to a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake in Utah.
Lukaku, who joined the Red Devils from Everton in a reported 75 million pound ($98.2 million) transfer last week, fired United ahead on 38 minutes, latching on to a low cross from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The 24-year-old Belgian international striker had also been involved in United’s equaliser scored by Mkhitaryan in the 29th minute after Luis Silva had given Salt Lake a shock early lead.
Lukaku used his strength and physical presence to hold off the Real defence to feed Jesse Lingard who provided the pass for Mkhitaryan to score.
The United goals were the rare highlights of a disjoined first half performance from Jose Mourinho’s side, who had travelled to Utah earlier Monday from their Los Angeles training camp.
For much of the opening half United were second best against a lively Salt Lake side, with their defence being given a torrid time by a team who are languishing near the foot of Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.
The lively attack trio of Luis Silva, Joao Plata and Jefferson Savarino often left United’s defence scrambling to get into position, with Phil Jones finding the movement of the Salt Lake front two hard to deal with.
A surging run from Savarino set up Silva’s opening goal on 23 minutes.
United however responded swiftly with Mkhitaryan’s equaliser just before the half hour mark.
Real coach Mike Petke, with one eye on his team’s MLS fixture in Portland on Wednesday, withdrew his entire starting line-up at the 30-minute mark, and United capitalised to take the lead through Lukaku.
Mourinho also fielded a new starting XI for the second half, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial leading the line for United.
United again struggled to impose themselves however, and their frustration boiled over when Antonio Valencia was sent off for a reckless lunge on Sebastian Saucedo midway through the second half.
United will face Manchester City in Houston on Thursday in the third game of their US tour.