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Mata salvages draw as Manchester United open North American tour


Los Angeles (AFP) – Juan Mata grabbed the 78th minute equalizer as Manchester United opened their pre-season with a 1-1 draw against Club America on Thursday in Phoenix, Arizona.

A header from Henry Martin in the 59th minute — past substitute goalkeeper Joel Pereira — had put Mexican outfit America in the lead at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The English Premiership giants pulled level 12 minutes from time after a cross from youngster Tahith Chong found Ander Herrera, whose header hit the post.

The ball rebounded to Mata, whose volley snuck through the legs of substitute goalkeeper Oscar Jiminez.

It was a lively start from both sides despite temperatures of 40 C in Phoenix. Anthony Martial was unlucky not to receive a penalty in the ninth minute after he appeared to be tripped in the area.

Four minutes later the Frenchman fired a curling shot over the crossbar, and United came close again minutes later as Mata loosed a shot that bounced off the upright.

Martial saw another shot tipped around the post, before America threatened at the other end — where Lee Grant, who started in goal for United, was called on to stop a shot from Club America’s Paul Aguilar.

Manchester United were without a host of stars still resting after the World Cup in Russia, including Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford.

David de Gea, Nemanja Matic and new signing Fred are expected to join the team next week, while Chilean Alexis Sanchez was thought to be arriving soon after resolving his visa issues.

“We knew it was going to be difficult because they have been training for more weeks than us, so I think they are in a better condition,” Mata said. “Mexican teams are always intense, they press a lot, they are quick and they showed that today. But we managed to get one goal so we are happy with that.

“We are also happy that there were no injuries and we will keep going in our process,” he added as United looked toward the next stop on their tour, against Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

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