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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018
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Hello! And welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of this evening’s Champions League meeting between Manchester United and Valencia. It still takes some time to adjust to these 8.00pm kick-off times, but squeezing in another European match earlier in the evening as a warm-up is a worthy sacrifice.

Man City and Hoffenheim have provided suitable entertainment ahead of today’s game at Old Trafford — they currently stand 1-1 at the Etihad thanks to a barnstorming start with two goals inside just eight minutes!

In the Red half of Manchester, however, you do feel that nothing but a win will do for Jose Mourinho’s men following a week to forget. United exited the Carabao Cup at home to Derby, Paul Pogba was stripped of the club’s vice-captaincy, and then the club fell away to West Ham. Grim times indeed.

Tonight’s Champions League meeting with struggling Valencia (who sit 14th in La Liga after picking up just one win in seven league games) presents an apt opportunity to get back on track.

It’s clear for all to see that things are not well inside the Theatre of Dreams at the moment. Following Saturday’s shocking 3-1 defeat against the Hammers in London, United are now in the midst of their worst ever start to a Premier League season.

Add to that player discontent, an ongoing frosty relationship between Mourinho and Pogba, and an even trickier relationship between the manager and Ed Woodward, and it’s a dangerous cocktail.

Tonight Mourinho & Co will hope to get back on track and replicate the type of performance which saw them see off Young Boys in their Champions League opener fortnight ago. Stick with us, kick-off is coming up in just under an hour!

Let’s get started with the team news…

So, today’s teams will line out as:

Man United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Shaw; Matic, Fellaini, Pogba; Rashford, Lukaku, Sanchez.

Subs: Romero, Darmian, Lindelof, McTominay, Fred, Martial, Mata.

Valencia: Neto; Piccini, Garay, Gabriel, Gaya; Parejo, Coquelin, Kondogbia, Guedes; Rodrigo, Batshuayi.

Subs: Domenech, Vezo, Wass, Diakhaby, Soler, Cheryshev, Gameiro.

With 45 minutes to go before we get up and running, how do we see tonight’s Group H clash going? Let us know below!


Poll Results:





There has been a big delay in Man United getting to Old Trafford this evening.  The hosts have arrived just 43 minutes before kick-off.

Kick-off has officially been delayed by five minutes.

4Mins

An early half-chance for Valencia as Goncalo Guedes storms down the left wing full of intent. He cuts into the box and fizzes a pass towards Rodrigo, but Eric Bailly reads the danger and provides a timely interception. A lively start.

6Mins

Danger for the visitors as Cristiano Piccini runs into trouble inside his own box and is dispossessed by Marcus Rashford. He tries to get his shot away from close range, but the chance is suffocated and booted clear. A close escape by Valencia and Piccini there.

28Mins

A half-chance for United as Antonio Valencia twists and turns his marker just outside the box before delivering a cross to the feet of Paul Pogba. He scoops a delicate pass over the top into the path of Romelu Lukaku who his sights set on goal — but the linesman raises his flag and calls for offside. 

Manchester United v Valencia - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Source: Martin Rickett

15Mins

Chance! Marcus Rashford comes closest to breaking the deadlock with a shot from distance. The forward did brilliantly to skip inside and find the space to let-fly — but his effort whizzes just narrowly wide of Neto’s bottom right corner.

20Mins

No score after 20 minutes and it’s fair to say it’s been pretty nip and tuck so far. Valencia are getting a lot of success down the right wing up against Antonio Valencia, but Rodrigo and Michy Batshuayi aren’t getting on the ball as much as they would have liked, both looking just a bit isolated and static. Jose Mourinho’s men seem a lot more assured and confident going forward than they did at the London Stadium three days ago, but have not found a breakthrough just yet.

23Mins

25Mins

Jose Gaya with a brilliant through ball which splits United’s defence apart and sees Goncalo Guedes once again sprint through towards the box. He provides a left-footed cross right into the box, but yet again Rodrigo can’t get there first as Chris Smalling recovers to slide the ball clear. Much better from the La Liga side.

27Mins

Manchester United v Valencia - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Cristiano Piccini and Marcus Rashford battle for the ball. Source: Martin Rickett

30Mins

Alexis Sanchez stands over a free-kick in a promising position 25 yards out from goal. He gets plenty of whip and bend on his strike, but it doesn’t beat the wall, bounces off Ezequiel Garay and is easily cleared. Frustration building for the hosts now as the crowd grows a little bit restless.

35Mins

Eric Bailly going off for some treatment on the sideline now following a clash with Rodrigo. It looked a bit worrying for the defender following the collision but he quickly got to his feet and will now receive further medical attention.

43Mins

Strong appeals for a penalty from the home supporters as Luke Shaw’s ball into the box comes off the arm of Ezequiel Garay. The supporters inside Old Trafford are adamant the defender stuck out his arm on purpose, but the referee is having none of it and waves play on.

45Mins

There will be three minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the first half.

45Mins

A chance deep in injury time sees that man Goncalo Guedes have a pop again. He does really well to sell Alexis Sanchez a dummy before releasing, but his curling effort is wayward of the top corner it was intended for. He is causing all sorts of problems down that right wing.

Manchester United v Valencia - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Valencia Manager Marcelino Garcia Toral reacts on the touchline. Source: EMPICS Sport

47Mins

“It really is incredible, the absence of an atmosphere,” notes George Hamilton in commentary. “Usually there is in the Premier League, but today it is lacking.” This game has yet to really catch fire, and that appears to be reflective in the crowd so far. Plenty of time left still.

48Mins

51Mins

Guedes with a really good chance inside the box. He snaps up possession right on the edge of the area and tees himself up for a shot at goal — the winger attempts to curl it into David de Gea’s top corner, but it flies just wide.

Britain Soccer Champions League Valencia midfielder Goncalo Guedes Source: Jon Super

53Mins

Chance! The game explodes into life momentarily as Romelu Lukaku fires an effort towards the bottom left corner. He latched onto the ball following a diagonal ball into the mixer from Paul Pogba, but the Belgian striker’s snapshot was blocked down at the last second by Ezequiel Garay. Very, very close.

55Mins

Another chance in quick succession for Man United and another block follows suit. This time it’s Marcus Rashford who releases a powerful low strike inside the box, but again a Valencia body comes to throw himself in the way.

54Mins

60Mins

Chances coming from all directions now as Jose Mourinho’s men up the ante. This time a corner floated into the box by Rashford is seized upon by Chris Smalling. The centre back does really well to rise high and fire a header towards the bottom corner, but it comes up short and is hooked clear.

Britain Soccer Champions League Source: Jon Super

61Mins

Bang! Paul Pogba almost, almost gives this game the goal it’s been crying out for with a powerful free-kick. The French international strikes with serious venom, but it is clawed out of the top corner thanks to a brilliant last-ditch save from Neto in goal. This game has suddenly come to life, thank God!

67Mins

Close! Valencia fire back via Michy Batshuayi, who slams a close-range effort curling narrowly over the bar. End-to-end stuff at the moment, but there may be some worry for Man United as Paul Pogba seemed to pull something as he slid to the floor. He’s continuing on for the moment, but appeared to be in spot of bother, possibly his calf.

72Mins

Romelu Lukaku tries his luck from close-range. Once again he latches onto a brilliant ball over the top from Paul Pogba, but all he can do is force a low save from Neto. Pogba and Lukaku have combined excellently all throughout this game against a back-peddling Valencia defence which has struggled to cope with the danger posed by the striker up top.

Manchester United v Valencia - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Romelu Lukaku forces a save from Valencia goalkeeper Neto. Source: Martin Rickett

77Mins

Substitution for Man United: Anthony Martial replaces Alexis Sanchez.

80Mins

Another chance comes the way of Guedes. The winger is picked out thanks to a perfectly weighted pass from Rodrigo, but Chris Smalling does really well to get there first and hoof the ball clear. Ten minutes remaining for either side to snatch a winner here — it’s finely balanced.

82Mins

A free-kick from close range, no more than 20 yards out, offers promise for United. Both Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku stand over it and it’s the latter that has a go at goal. But Lukaku’s effort is really rather poor — it strikes the wall and is easily cleared. 

86Mins

Another free-kick for United now as Anthony Martial is chopped down cynically by Cristiano Piccini just outside the box. The defender receives a yellow card and United now have another late chance from close range.

88Mins

Crossbar! Marcus Rashford smashes the top of the woodwork with a dipping strike which almost dropped into the top corner. Inches from snatching a late, great winner.

Manchester United v Valencia - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Old Trafford Man United forward Marcus Rashford. Source: Martin Rickett

88Mins

Lukaku heads just over the bar as United throw everything bar the kitchen sink forward in search of all three points. Rashford’s corner was inviting, but Lukaku’s powerful effort just flew over the top of the bar.

90Mins

There will be three minutes of stoppage time to come at the end of the second half.

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher

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