Ten Hag encouraged by Manchester United despite Aston Villa setback

By Sports Desk July 23, 2022

Erik ten Hag believes Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Aston Villa in Australia will provide important experience for the forthcoming season, following a second-half fightback from Steven Gerrard's side. 

Jadon Sancho scored his third goal in four pre-season games with a first-half volley, which was added to by an own goal, but Leon Bailey pulled one back for Villa in the second half before Calum Chambers' equaliser in the dying moments.

The draw ends United's perfect pre-season run so far, having won each of their three games prior to the clash against their fellow Premier League side, but Ten Hag has seen the positives and believes the setback can provide an education for the upcoming season.

"First half, it was a decent performance, second half, we came back out of the dressing room and we had to control the game but we gave it away. That is no good, so that is a lesson," he told MUTV.

"From the players, the team, I think there has been a lot of progress. There's been some positive aspects. 

"In the end there was a setback but that is also a part of the season because a season is not always getting up, you will also have setbacks that you have to deal with."

United face Atletico Madrid in Oslo later this week in their penultimate pre-season match, before bringing their preparations for 2022-23 to a close against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford next Sunday, and Ten Hag has outlined how he wants his team to continue to play in those games.

"We now play a different type of football against different systems, I think that will also be the case when we play the two Spanish teams," he added.

"What we want is to play proactive football, we want to play with initiative, we want to play attacking football. That is also what we have seen today over a long period but in the end, you have to control the game and that's what we didn't do."

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    That kick-started their Group C campaign, and a win over Denmark, who drew 1-1 with Slovenia earlier in the day, will see England progress to the last 16.

    Elsewhere, the Netherlands overcame Poland 2-1 thanks to Wout Weghorst's late strike.

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    England were not exactly free-flowing for much of their clash with Serbia, but Gareth Southgate's team got the job done.

    Bellingham was his hero, as he became just the second player ever to score at both the World Cup and Euros before turning 21, after compatriot Michael Owen.

    Indeed, Bellingham is the first player to score for the Three Lions at both the World Cup and European Championships while playing his club football outside of England.

    Finally, he became the first player to score for England at both the World Cup and Euros while playing his club football outside of England.

    Yet it was at the other end that England had to hold their nerve.

    Their defence has been questioned ahead of Euro 2024, but England have now kept a clean sheet in each of their last five group stage matches at the European Championships, the longest such run in the competition's history.

    Indeed, England have won their opening game in all four of their major tournaments played under Southgate (Euro 2020 and 2024, World Cup 2018 and 2022), just one fewer such victory than across their other 23 major tournament appearances (W5 D11 L7).

    Jordan Pickford pulled off a fine save late on to deny Dusan Vlahovic. The Everton star was making his 20th appearance for his country at a major tournament, a joint record for a Three Lions goalkeeper, matching Peter Shilton.

    England would have been home and hosed if Harry Kane had not seen a header tipped onto the crossbar. The Bayern Munich star was making his 23rd appearance at a major tournament, seeing him become the outright leader in that regard for the Three Lions.

    It was by no mean's a classic. In fact, this game featured just 11 shots, which is the lowest on record in a Euros game.

    Slovenia 1-1 Denmark: Eriksen runs the show but Janza haunts the Danes

    Christian Eriksen put the traumatic events of Euro 2020 firmly behind him as he scored in Denmark's opening match against Slovenia.

    That was the 32-year-old's first goal at the Euros, as he became the oldest Dane to score for the nation at the tournament.

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    Ultimately, though, Denmark could not get over the line, with Erik Janza rifling in a 77th-minute equaliser.

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    Bellingham opened the scoring as he headed home Bukayo Saka's cross to become the first player to net for the Three Lions at both the World Cup and Euros while playing his club football outside of England.

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