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Saturday 24 August 2019

Reds handle friendly fire - Pochettino apologises for fiery Spurs as Bailly stretchered off with knee injury

Man Utd 2 Tottenham H 1

TEMPERS FRAYED: Players square off during the International Champions Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at the Shanghai Hongkou Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
TEMPERS FRAYED: Players square off during the International Champions Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at the Shanghai Hongkou Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Eric Bailly will have a knee injury assessed upon Manchester United's return home after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side ended their tour of Australia and Asia with a win against Tottenham.

Three years after their Beijing friendly against Manchester City was cancelled, the Red Devils finally stepped out on Chinese soil once again.

Anthony Martial saw his first-half opener cancelled out by Spurs' Lucas Moura in sweltering Shanghai, where Angel Gomes sealed a 2-1 victory as United returned home with four wins from as many games.

It was a largely positive and productive tour, but it ended with Bailly getting injured 11 minutes after his half-time introduction.

The centre-back, who missed the end of last season due to medial ligament damage, left the field on a stretcher and looked in some distress.

United boss Solskjaer said: "It's never nice when you get an injury. It's not worth it when you lose one. He's done his knee but we're not sure how bad it is so of course we need to get back to Manchester and do the scans. Let's just hope for the best.

"We've had six centre-backs rotating here and they've all done well. Phil (Jones) has played the first three games, it was his turn (to be rested) today.

Chance

"I thought Marcos (Rojo) and Chris (Smalling) really took their chance, played well first half. We looked very assured at the back.

"So, of course, you're never happy when you get injuries. Let's hope it's not too bad for Eric."

United were perhaps fortunate not to have a worse injury list after a friendly that at times was anything but, with Dele Alli, Moussa Sissoko and Andreas Pereira all guilty of poor first-half challenges.

"It's a competitive sport and we're preparing for the league and that's why we have referees," Solskjaer said.

"I thought it was a very good preparation for getting ready for the league. No tippy-toey football. You went in to tackle when you're supposed to tackle, so I have no qualms about some of the tackles.

"Yeah, you're worried but there's no injuries ... we also gave, we didn't just receive. I thought it was a very good game."

Sissoko's challenge on Daniel James looked particularly bad and led to a melee in the corner.

The summer signing has been subject to rough tackling in every game during the tour but has dusted himself down well.

"Of course, we want them to be looked after - but it's also a man's sport," Solskjaer said. "We can't lose tackling in football. As long as you tackle fairly. Dan is so quick and it's not easy to time tackles and challenges against him, so I can understand why players mistime their tackles against him.

"He's a brave little boy and he jumps. He's taken a few knocks over the tour but as an old man I like to see tackles in the game.

"He gets up. There's no rolling about, or diving or anything like this. If he stays down, he's injured. But he gets up when he's just hurt. There's a difference between being hurt and injured."

Mauricio Pochettino apologised to Manchester United for some overzealous Tottenham challenges during the Shanghai encounter. Even though nobody was hurt in those tackles, Pochettino felt the need to apologise to his United counterparts.

"I was a little bit annoyed about some situations, I was not happy," the Tottenham head coach said.

"It was a friendly game and in some situations of course when you are tired, when it's so hot you are not right with the tempo to arrive at the actions, sometimes you arrive late, and something can happen.

"I apologise on behalf of our players to Manchester United.

"It's football. It wasn't their intention, but sometimes when you are tired you arrive late and some things can happen and I was worried because, in this period of preparation, sometimes you need to be aggressive and you need to play with passion, but sometimes the focus is to build your fitness and develop the way you want to play.

"Of course I was worried, Manchester United, Eric Bailly got injured and I am sorry for that, but he was alone and always when the players start to build their fitness and start to fight for their place in the team.

"When something happens in the pre-season it's always tough and I was a little bit worried but in the second half the game was a bit more relaxed."

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