Manchester United lost in a friendly match for the second time in three days as they succumbed to a drab 1-0 defeat away at La Liga side Real Betis.
With many of United’s star players yet to return from the World Cup, manager Erik ten Hag named an experimental lineup featuring a number of names from the club’s academy.
Among the more high-profile names in the starting XI was Donny van de Beek, but the Dutchman was abruptly removed from the lineup before kick-off, presumably due to an injury.
And United’s injury woes only continued as the game wore on, with defender Teden Mengi stretchered off after less than 20 minutes with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
It was Betis who looked the more threatening of the two sides in the first half, with United struggling to get on the ball and bring the likes of Anthony Martial and Alejandro Garnacho into play.
Brandon Williams was forced to clear a goal-bound effort off his own line just six minutes into the game, while Betis midfielder Paul Akuouokou was unlucky not to score when he struck the post from outside the box.
Their first chance of note came three minutes before half-time, when Martial picked up the ball outside the penalty area but dragged his shot wide of Rui Silva’s goal.
Ten Hag rang the changes at half-time, with almost the entire team being substituted, and incoming goalkeeper Tom Heaton was called into action within 15 seconds of the second half kicking off when Betis burst through and foced a good save from the veteran stopper.
Minutes later, Betis were in again and this time they took the lead, Fekir getting on the end of a well-worked routine to stroke the ball past Heaton.
This was the one moment of quality in a game sorely lacking in it, and though United’s youngsters huffed and puffed there would be no equaliser for the Red Devils in Seville today.
With Ten Hag left fuming by his side’s display against Cadiz on Wednesday, it’s hard to see this performance lifting his spirits.
Very few of United’s fringe players came close to making a case for first-team selection, and the Dutch coach will be counting down the days until his first-team stars are back in action.
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Didn’t have many saves to make but has the post and Brandon Williams to thank for keeping a clean sheet in the first half.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 6/10 – Whether this was Wan-Bissaka attempting to prove his worth or United putting him in the shop window, it’s unlikely to have worked as the game more or less passed him by.
CB: Teden Mengi – N/A – This was a good chance for Mengi to impress, but the defender’s outing was sadly cut short after just 15 minutes as he was stretchered off injured.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 7/10 – Looked relatively comfortable and was probably the main reason his side didn’t concede more.
LB: Brandon Williams – 7/10 – Kept United in the game early on with a wonderful goal-line clearance.
CM: Scott McTominay – 5/10 – Didn’t really help to control the midfield or progress the ball. A poor display from one of the most experienced players in the side.
CM: Zidane Iqbal – 7/10 – A bright spark for United, Iqbal delighted fans with some displays of his adhesive close control.
CM: Isak Hansen-Aaroen – 6/10 – Not a great display, but we’ll cut him some slack for being drafted into the XI at the last minute.
RW: Anthony Elanga – 5/10 – Disappointingly quiet and eventually hooked for Joe Hugill.
LW: Alejandro Garnacho – 5/10 – United looked keen to bring Garnacho into the game, but the Argentinian wonderkid came up short today.
ST: Anthony Martial – 6/10 – Had United’s best opportunity in the first half, but still a pretty dour display from the Frenchman.
Rhys Bennett (19′ for Mengi) – 6/10
Tom Heaton (46′ for De Gea) – 6/10
Shola Shoretire (46′ for Martial) – 6/10
Sam Murray (46′ for Williams) – 5/10
Kobbie Mainoo (46′ for Hansen Aaroen) – 6/10
Noam Emeran (63′ for Garnacho) – 5/10
Joe Hugill (63′ for Elanga) – 5/10
Charlie Savage (81′ for Iqbal) – N/A
Marc Jurado (81′ for Wan-Bissaka) – N/A