DENVER (AP) – Louis van Gaal was happy his Manchester United team got the win. He was not as happy about his team’s play – or the conditions.
Wayne Rooney scored twice and set up Juan Mata’s goal in Manchester United’s 3-2 victory over AS Roma on Saturday in the International Champions Cup.
The game was played with temperatures in the mid-80s and a mile above sea level, which van Gaal considered problematic.
“I think we don’t play a good match because of the height of the stadium maybe. The air,” he said. “It’s not likely that it is normal.
“America has a top sports climate. But then you have to play football at the right time. I’m sorry to say that. Because there were 55,000 people to watch us. We can perform much better.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Man U 3, AS Roma 2 At Sports Authority Field
Manchester United was coming off a 7-0 exhibition victory over Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night at the Rose Bowl and nearly had another shutout at Sports Authority Field. That was spoiled on Miralem Pjanic’s highlight-reel goal in the 75th minute.
“I trained yesterday for this goal today,” Pjanic said.
Marco Borriello also scored for AS Roma, which carried the play early before Manchester United took control late in the first half behind Mata and Rooney.
In the 36th minute, Mata fed Rooney at the top of the box and he dribbled to his right before curling a shot over the outstretched fingers of goalkeeper Lukasz Korupski and into the top left corner of the net.
Right after Mata missed on a close-in chance, he capitalized on another in the 39th minute. Rooney lofted a pass from midfield that Mata corralled in the box and chipped over Korupski.
“Rooney did it with his brain,” van Gaal said of the pass. “And Mata was running with his brain at the right moment.”
Rooney made it 3-0 on a penalty kick in first-half stoppage time.
“The third goal was the difference,” AS Roma coach Rudi Garcia said. “That’s what I told my players at halftime.”
Both clubs made wholesale changes after the break, employing their benches on an overcast day, and AS Roma got on the board with a well-placed shot late in the second half. Pjanic, 10 yards behind midfield, blasted a shot toward the Manchester United net. Goalkeeper Ben Amos was positioned high in the box and couldn’t recover in time to stop the ball from going in.
His shot from approximately 65 yards out was a product of the practice session he had with Denver Broncos placekicker Matt Prater at the team’s practice facility on Friday.
“It was a world-class goal,” Garcia said. “He had some good training at the Denver Broncos football pitch.”
AS Roma nearly made it a one-goal game when Leandro Castan’s bicycle kick went off the post. That missed opportunity loomed large when Borriello scored on a penalty kick in the 89th minute to make it 3-2.
Van Gaal wasn’t happy his team let AS Roma back into the match.
“When you are 3-0 ahead, it seems all you have to do is keep the ball in position and then the opponent has to run and run and run,” he said. “It’s very difficult with this hot weather to do that. But we have forgotten to do that. I’m pleased we have won. But it was not good.”
AS Roma had several scoring opportunities early.
Mattia Destro got behind the defense and took a pass from Salih Ucan. Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone came out to disrupt Destro, who chipped it over Johnstone toward the empty net. The ball bounced at the goalmouth and over the crossbar.
A minute later, Ucan sent a shot across the top of the box to Seydou Keita, but his shot went high over the goal.
Manchester United defender Rafael missed the game because of a groin injury.
– By MICHAEL KELLY, Associated Press
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