Jose Mourinho claimed the Community Shield at the end of his first match as Manchester United manager after Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a late winner on his official debut for the club.
Jesse Lingard had opened the scoring against Leicester City with an excellent individual goal and Jamie Vardy equalised at the start of the second half, but the Reds’ new no.9 proved to be the match-winner with his calmly
taken back-post header. It was the perfect follow-up to his pre-match interview with MUTV in which the Swede said: “I came here to win trophies – not to waste time!
There was a palpable sense of excitement among the fans an hour before kick-off after it was confirmed that Paul Pogba had been “granted permission to have a medical in order to finalise his transfer to United”. The
Frenchman is set to become Mourinho’s fourth signing and the boss named two of them – Eric Bailly and Ibrahimovic – in his XI, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan later coming as a 92nd-minute substitute.
United duly started brightly as Wayne Rooney brought a save from Kasper Schmeichel with an early header and Marouane Fellaini hit a deflected effort at goal. Leicester, the reigning Premier League champions, were then
spurred into action and Claudio Ranieri’s team registered their first attempt as Shinji Okazaki hit the bar on 19 minutes. Jamie Vardy, fresh from turning down a transfer to Arsenal, was then robbed of possession by an
excellent Bailly challenge as he looked to shoot.
The Reds quickly regained control of the action and Lingard opened the scoring with a superb individual goal on 32 minutes, as the Academy graduate burst forward from deep to dribble past three markers and dispatch a
low finish past the advancing Schmeichel. It was coincidentally notched at the same end of Wembley as his famous FA Cup final winner against Crystal Palace some 77 days earlier.
STATISTICS AT HALF-TIME
Possession: Leicester 46% United 54%
Shots at goal: Leicester 4 United 4
Shots on target: Leicester 0 United 3
Corners: Leicester 4 United 0
Leicester quickly restored parity at the start of the second half from the boot of livewire striker Vardy, after he latched onto a tame Fellaini back-pass to round David De Gea and finish into an open goal in front of watching
England manager Sam Allardyce. That prompted mass jubilation among the travelling Foxes supporters and they soon chanted “Champions of England, we know what we are”.
Mourinho was dressed formally in a club suit for his first competitive match as Reds boss and he stalked his technical area from start to finish, offering instructions and guidance for his players as they chased a second goal.
The manager’s touchline activity did relax slightly, however, when a minute’s applause was observed in the 66th minute in recognition of England’s 1966 World Cup win.
The tempo of Sunday’s match dropped after the clock passed 70 minutes, with both teams still building up physical sharpness ahead of the Premier League season, yet the Reds maintained an attacking threat and almost
scored when Ibrahimovic’s mishit effort was cleared off the line. Foxes substitute Ahmed Musa also went close with a close-range header that arced over the bar.
Just as a penalty shootout was looming large, Zlatan grabbed his chance to shine by heading Antonio Valencia’s lofted cross past Schmeichel to score a famous winner on his official debut for the club.
While there are certainly bigger challenges to come this season, lifting a trophy at Wembley remains an excellent start to Mourinho’s increasingly exciting era as manager.
STATISTICS AT FULL-TIME
Possession: Leicester 42% United 58%
Shots at goal: Leicester 10 United 9
Shots on target: Leicester 2 United 6
Corners: Leicester 7 United 2
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson (Hernandez 63′), Huth (Ulloa 89′), Morgan, Fuchs (Schlupp 80′), Mahrez, King (Mendy 62′) , Drinkwater, Albrighton (Gray 46’), Okazaki (Musa 46’), Vardy.
Subs not used: Zieler.
Booked: Simpson, King, Vardy
United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Shaw (Rojo 69′), Carrick (Herrera 61′), Fellaini, Lingard (Mata 63′) (Mkhitaryan 90+2′), Rooney (Schneiderlin 87′), Martial (Rashford 69′), Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: Romero.