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Manchester United gets the better of Melbourne Victory

Luis Nani of the Victory runs with the ball during the pre-season friendly between Melbourne Victory and Manchester United at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Photo: Getty
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Manchester United have survived an early scare to defeat Melbourne Victory 4-1 in a pre-season exhibition match at the MCG.

Stunned by an early Chris Ikonomidis goal on Friday night, it took a deflected strike from Scott McTominay in the 43rd minute to draw the Red Devils level before a close-range effort from Anthony Martial gave them the lead just before halftime.

Dominating possession, a late strike from Marcus Rashford and an own goal from Edmond Lupancu then sealed the visitor’s win.

United’s pre-season tour continues against fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace at the same historic venue on Tuesday, while Victory will focus on their Australia Cup fixture against Western United on August 3.

After beating Liverpool 4-0 in Thailand three days prior, United had been expected to comfortably handle Victory but went down inside the opening five minutes.

Breaking in transition, wingback Jay Barnett laced a ball down the right flank that allowed Ben Folami to find space and square to fellow Socceroo Ikonomidis for a first-time finish.

Though dominating the ball, United struggled to play through the ALM side in the exchanges that followed as they sat back and absorbed pressure.

But the weight of possession bore fruit in the 43rd when a disastrous attempt to play out by George Timotheou went straight to McTominay, whose subsequent long-range effort ricocheted off Stefan Nigro and beat a wrong-footed Paul Izzo.

United led moments later when Anthony Elanga knocked Diogo Dalot’s cross into the feet of Martial for a close-range finish.

Erik ten Hag rotated his entire outfield in the second half and Rashford was played through their lines to make it 3-1 in the 78th.

Victory’s new marquee signing Nani made a late cameo against his former side, introduced just in time for United’s fourth.

-AAP