Fernandes Nets Brace As Man Utd Beat Brighton

Manchester United's Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L) celebrates scoring their second goal with Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba (R) during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on June 30, 2020. Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP
Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (L) celebrates scoring their second goal with Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (R) during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Manchester United at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on June 30, 2020. Alastair Grant / POOL / AFP

 

Bruno Fernandes boosted Manchester United’s bid to qualify for the Champions League as his brace inspired an impressive 3-0 win at Brighton on Tuesday.

Cajoled by the dazzling Fernandes, United produced one of their best performances of the season at the Amex Stadium.

Mason Greenwood opened the scoring early in the first half and Fernandes doubled the lead before the interval.

Fernandes netted again after half-time with a fine volley as United climbed above Wolves on goal difference to take fifth place in the Premier League.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are two points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, who play their game in hand at West Ham on Wednesday.

With fifth place securing qualification for the Champions League if second-placed Manchester City’s European ban is upheld, United are in a strong position to return to the continent’s elite club competition.

If they make it, United will owe a huge debt of gratitude to Fernandes, who has scored six goals since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January.

The Portugal midfielder’s role in revitalising United cannot be understated.

They were mired in a major slump before Fernandes’ signing, but are now on a 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions, including three successive wins.

United are also looking more solid at the back with eight clean sheets in their last 13 league matches.

With a run-in that includes games against Bournemouth, Aston Villa and West Ham, Solskjaer’s men could enjoy a memorable conclusion to the campaign as they also chase success in the FA Cup and Europa League.

Brighton had taken four points from two games since the restart, easing their relegation fears, but this defeat means they aren’t completely safe yet.

Complete control

Solskjaer made eight changes to the side that beat Norwich in the FA Cup on Saturday and his refreshed line-up turned on the style.

Harry Maguire led United’s charge with a long pass to Paul Pogba, who rolled it into the path of Fernandes for a fierce drive that cannoned back off the post.

Solskjaer this week warned United’s strikers they must improve if they want to stay in the team.

“If you think we won’t look for players to replace you, you’re in the wrong place,” he said.

It was a message that Greenwood had clearly taken to heart as the 18-year-old produced a fine strike to open the scoring in the 16th minute.

Cutting in from the right, Greenwood froze Lewis Dunk with a nimble step-over and drilled a low shot past Brighton keeper Mat Ryan at his near post.

Greenwood’s 13th goal of the season in all competitions was the signal for United to take complete control.

Maguire almost made it two with a header that looped narrowly wide and in the 29th minute Brighton cracked again.

Luke Shaw’s run unhinged the Albion defence and Pogba worked the ball back to Fernandes, whose shot deflected off Alexis Mac Allister and squirmed past Ryan from the edge of the area.

There was frustration for Brighton as they claimed Shaw was offside and the ball had been taken out of play in the build-up to the goal.

Neither appeal was accepted and Fernandes was able to celebrate his latest crucial contribution.

Fernandes wasn’t finished yet and he put the game out of Brighton’s reach at the climax of a swaggering United counter in the 50th minute.

Nemanja Matic’s cross-field pass sent Greenwood sprinting away down the left and the teenager unfurled a perfect cross for Fernandes to volley past Ryan from 12 yards.

 

AFP

Ighalo Scores As Man Utd Edge 10-Man Norwich To Reach FA Cup Semi-Finals

Norwich City's English-born Northern Irish defender Jamal Lewis (L) clocks a shot from Manchester United's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on June 27, 2020. Joe Giddens / POOL / AFP
Norwich City’s English-born Northern Irish defender Jamal Lewis (L) clocks a shot from Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo during the English FA Cup quarter-final football match between Norwich City and Manchester United at Carrow Road in Norwich, eastern England on June 27, 2020. Joe Giddens / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Manchester United’s strength in depth will be crucial to their bid to win the FA Cup after they moved into the semi-finals with a 2-1 win over 10-man Norwich on Saturday.

Solskjaer’s side had to work hard for their last-four place as Harry Maguire won it late in extra time at Carrow Road.

Odion Ighalo’s opener was cancelled out by Norwich’s Todd Cantwell, but Canaries defender Timm Klose was sent off for hauling down Ighalo in the 89th minute.

United gradually wore Norwich down and England defender Maguire pounced to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions.

United, who won their 12th and most recent FA Cup in 2016, remain on course to reach the final for the second time in three years.

“I’m delighted to be in the last four. Many of these players did not play the last game and now have 90 or 120 minutes in their legs,” Solskjaer said.

“We made many changes so I didn’t make it easy for the players. The game was not the greatest spectacle but I felt we kept the ball ok.

“It is great to have the option to rotate. Anthony Martial came on and did brilliant, but Odion Ighalo gives me a chance to rotate.

“He is a proven goalscorer and played his part in both goals.”

Exactly 114 days after United won at Derby in the fifth round on March 5, the FA Cup returned following the coronavirus hiatus with the competition’s first ever match in June.

Solskjaer made eight changes as only Maguire, Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes survived from the midweek Premier League win against Sheffield United.

United’s stand-ins were out of sync for much of a first half that followed the pattern of many post-lockdown matches, both teams lacking energy and invention.

In a rare threat, Maguire had to stop Lukas Rupp’s shot with an alert block after Cantwell’s run opened up the visitors’ defence.

Solskjaer’s team finally awoke from their slumber after the interval and grabbed the lead in the 51st minute.

Luke Shaw’s cross was helped on by Juan Mata and Ighalo sniffed out the chance, flicking an agile finish past Tim Krul from inside the six-yard box.

The Nigerian has scored in each of his four United starts, making it five goals in 11 appearances since he arrived from Shanghai Shenhua in January.

Frantic finale

Norwich were playing in their first FA Cup quarter-final since 1992, but Canaries boss Daniel Farke had dampened the mood when he insisted they had no chance of winning the competition.

Despite Farke’s pessimism, Norwich nearly equalised when Ben Godfrey stretched to reach Alexander Tettey’s header from Emiliano Buendia’s free-kick.

Norwich kept pressing and drew level in the 75th minute when Cantwell’s 20-yard strike swerved away from slow-to-react United keeper Sergio Romero.

Suddenly in the ascendency, Norwich almost won it in the final minutes when Buendia shot just past the far post.

But with extra time looming, Fernandes’ superb flick found Ighalo on the edge of the area and Klose’s panicked response, hauling down the Nigerian, triggered a red card from referee Jonathan Moss.

Krul made good saves to keep out efforts from United substitutes Paul Pogba and Mason Greenwood in a frantic finale.

With five subs allowed since the lockdown and an additional one given to teams who go to extra time in the FA Cup, United become the first English side to make six changes in the same game when Anthony Martial replaced Eric Bailly.

United dominated extra time and Marcus Rashford’s strike was pushed over by Krul, who made an even better save to stop Maguire’s header.

Maguire wasn’t to be denied and in the 118th minute United’s pressure finally told as the England defender poked home from close range after Ighalo flicked on.

 

AFP

Solskjaer Congratulates Liverpool On Premier League Title

Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north west England on January 19, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Friday congratulated bitter rivals Liverpool on their long-awaited Premier League triumph but said watching other sides lifting the trophy “hurt”.

Liverpool were crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years without kicking a ball on Thursday when Chelsea beat Manchester City at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool’s 19th title triumph, which sparked wild celebrations around their Anfield home ground, left them one behind United’s record haul.

“First of all, any team that wins the championship and a Premier League deserves it and they deserve credit,” United boss Solskjaer, who won six league titles as a player at Old Trafford, told reporters.

“It’s a hard league to win, so well done to Jurgen (Klopp) and his players.

“For me, every time you see anyone else lift the trophy it hurts. I reckon that’s the feeling everyone associated with Man United — all players, staff, and supporters. Of course, we want to get back to winning ways and that’s our challenge.”

Solskjaer is hoping FA Cup glory can be a springboard for further success, with United heading to Norwich on Saturday in the quarter-finals.

United are fifth in the Premier League, still in the race for a Champions League spot, and are well-placed to reach the last eight of the Europa League.

“I think first of all the FA Cup is a fantastic tournament, and a fantastic final to play a part in, a fantastic trophy to lift,” said Solskjaer.

“For our team, it’s a new team, and to get hands-on a first trophy and win a first title would be fantastic and hopefully a catalyst for more things to come.”

Solskjaer plans to rotate his squad at Carrow Road, where Jesse Lingard will feature, having yet to play a minute since the restart.

“Jesse has come back after the lockdown with a smile on his face, loads of energy,” he said.

“Unfortunately, last week he fell ill for a couple of days but we’ve done all the tests and he’s fine, so he’ll be involved against Norwich now and hopefully he can kick on.”

 

 

-AFP

Liverpool Await Man City Slip-Up As Premier League Glory Looms

Liverpool-Win
File: Liverpool’s Senegalese striker Sadio Mane (L) celebrates with Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino (R) and Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on March 7, 2020. GEOFF CADDICK / AFP

 

Liverpool will be crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years without kicking a ball on Thursday if Manchester City fail to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Jurgen Klopp’s men moved to the brink of a long-awaited Premier League title in style by thumping Crystal Palace 4-0 on their return to Anfield on Wednesday.

Liverpool hold a 23-point lead over defending champions City, who have eight games to play, meaning their 19th English title — and first Premier League crown — is just a matter of time.

The European champions’ long wait to return to the summit of English football has been extended by three months due to the unprecedented coronavirus shutdown.

Fears that a potentially record-breaking season could be declared null and void were quickly dismissed, but the Premier League’s return has offered the Reds the chance to seal the title on the pitch rather than on a points-per-game formula.

If City manage to keep the title race alive at Chelsea, a point would be good enough for Liverpool to win the league when they travel to Manchester in a clash between the top two on July 2.

Klopp said he would be watching Thursday’s game in London, not to will on Frank Lampard’s side but to prepare for the game against City.

“I watch the game not to prepare a celebration but we play City a week later and also Chelsea,” said the German. “It will happen when it happens.”

City boss Pep Guardiola said on Wednesday his priority is Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final rather than prolonging Liverpool’s wait and he could rest players ahead of the trip to Newcastle at the weekend.

– Liverpool hit form –

After a slow start on their return in a 0-0 draw at neighbours Everton on Sunday, Liverpool showed why they are champions-elect with a demolition of Palace at an empty Anfield.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Sadio Mane were all on the scoresheet as Klopp’s men showed the combination of flair and determination that have made them such an unstoppable force this season.

England international Alexander-Arnold admitted many of his teammates would be tuning into events in London on Thursday but wants Liverpool to go on and rewrite the record books no matter when they clinch the title.

City set the Premier League points record of 100 two seasons ago, but Klopp’s side could still reach 107.

“A lot of us will watch it tomorrow but not get too excited,” said Alexander-Arnold.

“We’ve still got to prepare for the game next week regardless. We’ve still got seven games left and we’re going to try and get all 21 points from those games.”

Liverpool dominated English football in the 1970s and 1980s before ceding their position to Manchester United, who have won a record 20 titles in total.

Seven different clubs have won the English top-flight since Liverpool last tasted success under Kenny Dalglish in 1990 — two years before the launch of the Premier League.

Klopp took his side to within a whisker of glory last year, finishing a single point behind City, despite posting a club record tally of 97 points.

Salah, who has formed a devastating forward partnership with Roberto Firmino and Mane, said it was Liverpool’s “time”.

“Since I came here I said I want to win the Premier League with the team,” he told Sky Sports. “City didn’t win it for a long time, so it was the right time.

“Maybe last year we had a chance to win it but Man City also performed really good and they won it. It’s our time to win it and it’s great.”

Man Utd Make Top Four Move, Liverpool Lie In Wait

Liverpool's English midfielder Jordan Henderson (L) clears the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on June 24, 2020. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /
Liverpool’s English midfielder Jordan Henderson (L) clears the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on June 24, 2020. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP) 

 

Manchester United closed to within two points of the top four thanks to Anthony Martial’s hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Sheffield United on Wednesday before Liverpool hope to move to the brink of a first title in 30 years.

Victory for Jurgen Klopp’s men over Crystal Palace at Anfield will mean Manchester City have to win at Chelsea on Thursday to deny the Reds being crowned champions.

United are still far off challenging again for titles at the top of the table, but there are growing signs of momentum for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men as they extended their unbeaten run to 13 games.

Martial produced two predatory first-time finishes before half-time to put the Red Devils in command.

Sheffield United were riding high in March before football’s shutdown for three months, but the Blades have now picked up just one point and failed to score in their three games since the restart.

United could have pilled on much more pain after the break, but were content with one more goal as Martial completed his first career hat-trick with a cheeky chip from Marcus Rashford’s pass.

Fifth-place could still be good enough for a place in next season’s Champions League depending on the outcome of Manchester City’s appeal against a two-season ban from European competition.

And Wolves remain level on points with United in fifth by continuing their perfect restart with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.

Just as in a 2-0 victory at West Ham on Saturday, Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez combined to break the deadlock as the Mexican powered home a header for his 24th goal of the season.

Defeat leaves Bournemouth still in the bottom three on goal difference and there are now three teams tied on 27 points as Aston Villa struck late to claim a 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

Dean Smith’s side look set to rue a host of missed chances before half-time when Dwight Gayle put the Magpies in front.

However, Ahmed El Mohamady’s scrappy finish from Conor Hourihane’s corner salvaged a precious point.

Any hope of Norwich hauling themselves out of trouble now looks forlorn as the Canaries fell to a second home defeat in a week.

Michael Keane scored the only goal as Everton won 1-0 at Carrow Road to move above Arsenal into 10th.

Norwich remain rock bottom, six points adrift of safety.

 

 

-AFP

Premier League: Penalty Drama As Tottenham Hold Man Utd

Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) vies for the ball against Tottenham Hotspur's English defender Eric Dier (R) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on June 19, 2020. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP
Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba (L) vies for the ball against Tottenham Hotspur’s English defender Eric Dier (R) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on June 19, 2020. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP

 

Bruno Fernandes’s penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw for Manchester United at Tottenham as the Red Devils had another late spot-kick overturned by a VAR review on Friday.

Jose Mourinho was on course to get the better of his former club when Steven Bergwijn’s strike gave Spurs a half-time lead.

However, United’s second half pressure finally told nine minutes from time when Fernandes converted from the spot after Paul Pogba had been brought down in the box.

Fernandes then thought he had won a second penalty, but a VAR review decided there was little contact as he went down under a challenge from Eric Dier.

A point does little for either side’s chances of breaking into the top four.

United remain in fifth, two points behind Chelsea, while Spurs are four points further back in eighth.

In keeping with all matches since the Premier League’s return earlier this week, all players and officials took a knee before kick in protest against racial injustice.

Once the action did get underway, United settled quickest to the eery surroundings of a 62,000 seater stadium draped in banners with the only fans appearing on giant video screens behind each goal.

Marcus Rashford has had a momentous week as the English international’s campaign to ensure vulnerable children are not left without food vouchers during the English school holidays forced a government U-turn.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described the 22-year-old’s action as far “more important than any game of football that he would probably play.”

However, the England international admitted he was also desperate to get back to the day job after being sidelined since January with a back injury prior to the coronavirus-enforced shutdown of football for three months.

Rashford had the best chance to turn the visitors’ early control into a goal as his low shot was beaten away by the legs of Hugo Lloris.

Tottenham could be the Premier League side with most to gain from a three-month stoppage.

Prior to lockdown, Mourinho spoke of his desire to fast forward to the end of the season when he would have Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Bergwijn fit again.

All four were fit to return to the starting line-up and it was a inspired moment from the Dutchman which opened the scoring.

Bergwijn surged past the leaden-footed Harry Maguire before David de Gea could only parry his powerful shot into the roof of the net.

De Gea made amends moments later with a stunning save to prevent Son’s looping header from Bergwijn’s cross doubling Tottenham’s lead.

However, that was the last time the Spaniard was troubled as Tottenham sat on their lead after the break and invited plenty of United pressure.

The arrival of Fernandes in January played a huge part in an 11-game unbeaten run for Solskjaer’s men before the break.

Fernandes was inches away from an equaliser as his low drive fizzed just wide.

Lloris then produced a stunning save to tip Anthony Martial’s rising effort over.

Solskjaer had left Pogba on the bench from the start, but the Frenchman made a big impact after being introduced for his first appearance since December 26.

Pogba’s quick feet left Eric Dier in his wake and Dier then pushed the midfielder over inside the box as he tried to recover.

Fernandes coolly sent Lloris the wrong way from the penalty spot to deservedly level.

And United thought they had the chance to win the game when Jon Moss pointed to the spot again in stoppage time.

Rashford was set to take the penalty this time, but was denied the chance to round off his momentous week as VAR overruled the referee’s original decision and United had to settle for a point.

Preview: Man United Tackle Tottenham In Mouth-Watering EPL Fixture

FILES: Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford misses with this freekick during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 4, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho is hoping to exact revenge on former employers Manchester United, while Liverpool aim to move within one win of the title as the Premier League’s return kicks up a gear across a four-day weekend of action.

The English top flight got its first taste of empty stands and strict hygiene protocols on Wednesday as Aston Villa’s goalless draw with Sheffield United and Manchester City’s 3-0 victory over Arsenal restarted the campaign.

Despite the muted atmosphere, there remains plenty to play for at both ends of the table with the clash between Tottenham and United pivotal in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Both sit outside the top four with nine games remaining. However, United’s position in fifth could be good enough to secure a return to the Champions League if Manchester City’s appeal against a two-season ban from European competition is unsuccessful.

Spurs could prove to be the biggest winners of the three-month lockdown.

Before the break, Mourinho claimed he could not wait for the season to finish as injuries to Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Moussa Sissoko and Steven Bergwijn appeared to have ended their campaigns.

All four are now fit again and victory would lift Tottenham to within one point of the club that sacked Mourinho in December 2018.

In the other Premier League fixture for the day, Norwich City will battle Southampton at the Carrow Road.

EPL Fixtures Today

Below are the Premier League fixtures and their kickoff times for today: 

 

Solskjaer Challenges Pogba To Show Leadership For Man Utd

File photo: Manchester United and France midfielder Paul Pogba gives a press conference after a gala football match between All Star France and Guinea at the Vallee du Cher Stadium in Tours, central France, on December 29, 2019, as part of the “48h for Guinea” charity event. GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged Paul Pogba to show leadership at Manchester United as the midfielder seeks to put a wretched season behind him.

The World Cup winner has managed just eight appearances in all competitions due to foot and ankle problems and has not played since December.

United’s record signing could make his long-awaited return when their Premier League campaign resumes at Tottenham on Friday, where Pogba would face former boss Jose Mourinho.

United manager Solskjaer said he was confident that Pogba, linked with a move away from Old Trafford earlier this season, would recover his best form.

“Paul is one of the best midfielders in the world, so of course we expect him to gradually improve as he gets more and more game time,” he said.

“I don’t know if it’s 45 minutes this time, is it 60, is it… so gradually over these next few months we can work him up back to his best.

“Paul has had a very, very good career. Of course he is a World Cup winner and we want to have that leadership on the pitch as well.”

United’s midfield has improved markedly since the 27-year-old last played due to the January arrival of Bruno Fernandes, and the potential of the pair playing together is an intriguing prospect.

The three-month coronavirus suspension has also allowed England international Marcus Rashford to recover from his back injury.

United are unbeaten in 11 matches and pushing for Champions League qualification as well as FA Cup and Europa League glory.

The Norwegian manager said the break had been good for Mason Greenwood, 18, who has scored 12 goals in 36 appearances during his breakthrough season.

“Sometimes earlier on you could see he was a kid,” he said.

“Now in training he can use his strength better and he has done really well over the three or four weeks we have been training now.”

Solskjaer Praises Campaigning Man Utd Star Rashford

In this file photo taken on December 01, 2019 Manchester United's English striker Marcus Rashford applauds supporters on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP
In this file photo taken on December 01, 2019 Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford applauds supporters on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 1, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heaped praise on Marcus Rashford for his work to help feed vulnerable families during the coronavirus crisis, saying it was more important than anything he would do on the pitch.

The Manchester United striker has helped raise around £20 million ($25 million) for charity and this week persuaded the British government to provide free school meal vouchers during the summer holidays.

Solskjaer, whose team return to action at Tottenham on Friday, said it had been “fantastic” to follow Rashford during the coronavirus lockdown.

“It’s not only that he got the Prime Minister to change his mind, but also what he’s done over the last few months,” the Norwegian boss said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“Marcus is such a top, top human being and he’s brought his own experiences as a kid into this conversation and changed the lives of so many kids.”

Solskjaer said Rashford’s work would have a major impact on the lives of deprived children.

“He’s changed the lives of so many kids this summer, which is more important than any game of football that he would probably play,” he said. “Hopefully he can keep both sides going as well as he’s doing now.”

Meanwhile Solskjaer said he also was proud of the way the Premier League was throwing its weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement in the battle against racism.

Players, who are wearing “Black Lives Matter” on their shirts in place of their names, made a powerful gesture of solidarity on Wednesday by taking a knee before kick-off in the first two matches after the restart.

“I think we all know that this shouldn’t happen in 2020,” said Solskjaer.

“What’s been happening and that players, Premier League teams that we all make a stand and say enough is enough, I think that is good. I don’t expect anything different from ours.”

Fifth-placed United will come up against former manager Jose Mourinho in London, with both sides battling for a Champions League spot.

Solskjaer confirmed Rashford and Paul Pogba would be available after lengthy spells on the sidelines.

Odion Ighalo can be called upon for the rest of the season after United agreed a loan extension with Shanghai Shenhua, but talented teenager Angel Gomes’s contract is set to expire at the end of the month.

“He’s a top, top kid that we’ve had in the club for so many years and we’ve offered him a deal,” Solskjaer said of the academy graduate.

“Hopefully he’ll take that. If not, I wish him all the best.”

AFP

Man United Cancel Friendly After Stoke City Manager Contracts COVID-19

Michael O’Neill

 

The friendly game between Manchester United and Stoke City has been cancelled after the Potters gaffer, Michael O’Neill tested positive to COVID-19.

Michael O’Neill was confirmed positive for COVID-19 following the most recent round of testing conducted on Monday.

The planned match between the duo was called off on Tuesday following the development with Stoke having arrived at the Manchester United’s Carrington training ground and were already in the academy building.

“Stoke City can confirm that manager Michael O’Neill has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus following the latest round of testing on Monday (June 8),” read a statement on Stoke City’s website.

“O’Neill had tested negative in the previous five rounds of testing. He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players.”

The club statement revealed that “Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of training as the Potters prepare for their game against Reading on June 20. The Club will be making no further comment on this matter.”

Stoke are on 17th position in the English Championship with three points above the relegation zone.

United are billed to meet Tottenham as the Premier League resumes on June 17th after been forced to go on a break, mid-March, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the most recent round of COVID-19 testing in the Premier League, no positive cases were detected.

Overall, 1,195 players and club staff have been tested for COVID-19 in the Premier League.

Ighalo Excited By ‘Dream’ Man Utd Extension

In this file photo taken on February 27, 2020 Manchester United's Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo reacts at the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg football match between Manchester United and Club Brugge at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on February 27, 2020.  Oli SCARFF / AFP
In this file photo taken on February 27, 2020 Manchester United’s Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo reacts at the final whistle during the UEFA Europa League round of 32-second leg football match between Manchester United and Club Brugge at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on February 27, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Odion Ighalo said on Tuesday he was living the dream after his loan move to Manchester United was extended despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nigeria international, a lifelong United fan, joined the club on loan from Shanghai Shenhua in January due to the COVID-19 situation then prevailing in China.

But the virus then spread to Europe and brought the Premier League season to a halt in mid-March.

It looked then as if the 30-year-old’s career with United might amount to just eight games given his original deal was due to expire on May 31.

But ahead of the Premier League season resuming on June 17, United said Monday they had agreed with Shenhua to extend Ighalo’s loan move until January.

“I’m really happy. It’s a dream for me to be here. I’m buzzing and ready to go,” Ighalo told MUTV.

“The last few days have been difficult as there have been different talks about it but now I’m really happy, so I need to concentrate fully. I’m here until the end of January, so it’s good for me.”

The most recent of Ighalo’s four goals for United came in a Europa League match away to LASK, a fixture played behind closed doors as a result of coronavirus measures in Austria.

Fixtures without spectators will become the norm when the Premier League resumes and Ighalo, recalling his experience, said: “It was strange, you know, but it’s OK.

“We know there is nothing we can do now but play behind closed doors and we’re happy to do it.

“In the game against LASK, it was strange because you could hear everything when your team-mates shouted. In a normal game, you can’t hear, but it was clear and loud.

“It’s a bit strange without fans, and difficult, but we have to be safe so we have to do it.”

Man Utd Extend Ighalo’s Loan Deal Until January 2021

A file photo of Odion Ighalo.

 

Manchester United extended Odion Ighalo’s loan spell until January 2021 on Monday to ensure the Nigerian striker will be able to finish the 2019/20 season with the Premier League club.

Ighalo’s initial loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua expired at the end of May, but the 30-year-old has been rewarded for an impressive return of four goals in eight appearances for United before football was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic in March.

“Manchester United have reached agreement with Shanghai Greenland Shenhua to extend the loan deal for Odion Ighalo,” United said in a statement.

“He will now remain with the Reds until 31 January 2021, enabling him to build on an impressive start to life with the club he supported as a boy.”

Ighalo could prove an important addition to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad ahead of a packed schedule once games get back underway later this month.

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The Premier League is due to return on June 17 and United could face up to 12 matches in little over a month should they also progress in the FA Cup.

Solskjaer’s men are also due to resume their Europa League campaign in August.

“They (Shanghai) have been great towards us, allowing him to play for his dream club,” said Solskjaer last week.

“It’s been a dream for him and hopefully he can finish what he started and win a trophy with us.”

AFP