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Late Mata penalty settles Oslo friendly

A Manchester United side lacking sharpness escaped with a last-gasp 1-0 friendly win against Norwegian side Kristiansund on Tuesday.

JUAN MATA’S STOPPAGE-time penalty gave a profligate Manchester United a controversial 1-0 friendly win over Norwegian outfit Kristiansund in Oslo on Tuesday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lacked sharpness in their penultimate pre-season friendly and wasted a host of chances – Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford the prime culprits.

Scott McTominay hit the post in the first half, too, and a draw seemed on the cards until Mata went down in the penalty area in stoppage time when it appeared little or no contact had been made with the onrushing goalkeeper.

The Spaniard stepped up to take the spot-kick and coolly converted, sparing Solskjaer’s blushes against a Kristiansund side who sit seventh in the ongoing Eliteserien.

Much of the pre-match build-up surrounded Noah Solskjaer, the 19-year-old son of the Manchester United boss who has occasionally featured for Kristiansund’s B team.

Solskjaer Jr. was a late substitute, while new Manchester United signings Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James started for the visitors.

The chances came thick and fast in a one-sided opening half but Kristiansund held firm with a mix of defiant defence, a goalkeeper in inspired form and the odd stroke of luck.

Defender Christoffer Aasbak produced two vital interventions in the space of four minutes, first producing a last-ditch challenge that deflected a Lingard effort over before he cleared a dangerous Luke Shaw cross that James was waiting to tap in at the far post.

Kristiansund keeeper Sean McDermott was called upon at regular intervals – saving sharply from a Rashford free-kick, denying the same player with his legs and producing a one-handed stop to keep out a Lingard strike.

Premier League Package Solskjaer handed starts to his two new signings this evening in Oslo. Source: Martin Rickett

United’s first half was summed up by McTominay’s 42nd-minute strike that he thrashed into the woodwork before watching it bounce away to safety.

Kristiansund should have taken a shock lead six minutes into the second half but Sondre Sorli missed the target with a free header from close range and the near-miss kicked Solskjaer’s men into action.

Rashford forced a one-handed save from Serigne Mor Mbaye, who replaced the excellent McDermott, while Solskjaer made 11 changes in a bid for the elusive first goal.

Mason Greenwood fired into the side netting and Fred then curled wide before the decisive moment, as Mata went down softly after Andreas Vaikla – the third goalkeeper to play in the match for Kristiansund – rushed off his line.

United have one more pre-season friendly remaining and will take on AC Milan on Saturday. A clash against Chelsea – now managed by former player Frank Lampard – will follow on the first weekend of the Premier League season.

Bailly Blow

Meanwhile, defender Eric Bailly will be sidelined for the foreseeable future after having knee surgery.

The 25-year-old centre-back suffered a knee injury against Tottenham during a pre-season friendly in China last week.

The initial signs were not good and now Bailly may not play again in 2019, having also battled knee problems during an injury-plagued 2018-19 season.

Solskjaer confirmed the news after tonight’s game, saying: “Eric has had an operation and will be out for four to five months.

“Hopefully we’ll have him back around Christmas time.”

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