08/08/17 Reverse order Timestamp format
Evening, all! Welcome to tonight's Republik of Mancuina live blog as United kickstart their season proper with a Super Cup meeting with Real Madrid.
My name's Iwan Lehnert, and it is my distinct privilege to be with you tonight for United's first match of proper significance since May 24th, when we lifted the Europa League trophy on that memorable night in Stockholm.
So then, the lineups! Interesting to see Jose Mourinho go for 4-3-3, given the trailing of 3-5-2 over the last few weeks.
Big night for Romelu Lukaku, who leads the line, as expected. Nemanja Matic, who wasn't supposed to be 100% fit, given that he was training alone at Chelsea before his move last week, starts. Chance for Victor Lindelof to prove his quality too; the Swede had what could be best described as an awkward pre-season, and Real Madrid will surely put United under more pressure than they did last month in that 1-1 friendly draw in Santa Clara.
As far as United's opponents go, it's a predictably strong lineup. Cristiano Ronaldo is only fit enough for the bench, and Gareth Bale, who has been the subject of much speculation over the last few days starts in attack alongside Karim Benzema and Isco.
Funny how things work out; you don't play Real Madrid for a few years and then suddenly, two fixtures come along at once.
Of course, you'd expect this meeting to be a bit more interesting than our last one! United and Real played out a relatively quiet 1-1 draw at the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara last month. Anthony Martial's lovely run set up a simple tap-in for Jesse Lingard before Casemiro's second half penalty even the scores. A penalty shootout that can quite easily be described as 'terrible' followed, and United scraped through.
Kick-off fast approaching, the teams are in the tunnel and a nicely paired-down opening ceremony is just about done!
KICK-OFF: United get us underway and our season has officially begun.
And straightaway, United almost prey on some poor defending! Antonio Valencia's lofted ball reaches Romelu Lukaku, who gets the ball ahead of both Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas, but the Chilean keeper recovers and gobbles the ball up. Still, a sign of United's directness tonight, perhaps?
And Bale misses a great chance at the other end! A deep cross left the Welshman unmarked in the box with Matic's mind elsewhere, and Bale flicked the ball wide of De Gea's goal with the Spaniard motionless. Bit too easy, that.
Lindelof certainly needs time to adjust but no doubt that the Swede is still finding his feet at United at the moment. Looks a bit loose positionally.
Lovely bit of skill from Paul Pogba unleashes his fellow dabbing artiste, Jesse Lingard, but Real regroup and clear the ball.
Lovely run from Henrikh Mkhitaryan as he takes the ball around Sergio Ramos, but the Armenian goes down just outside of the area! Nothing doing from the referee. Mkhitaryan then flashes a low cross into Real's penalty area but he can't find a red shirt.
Positive start from United in the first ten minutes. Using the ball effectively, quickly and looking sharp!
...watch Real score now.
Good work from Lindelof to shepherd the ball out of for a corner with Karim Benzema closing in.
Chris Smalling attempting to take Sergio Ramos' shirt off in the penalty area in an earlier replay. No way that could have ended badly!
Off the crossbar! Toni Kroos' corner is met by Casemiro who thumps it off the woodwork with De Gea beaten, before United hit Real on the counter attack. It ends with a deflected Pogba shot bouncing through to Navas, but both sides served warnings in a short burst of play.
Matteo Darmian was all over Casemiro and still couldn't stop the header. The Italian clears poorly after Jesse Lingard wins possession back and allows the same player to blast over from distance. Definitely sense that the Spanish champions are moving up a gear.
GOAL: United 0-1 Real Madrid (Casemiro)
It's been coming. Real have been threatening to make a breakthrough, and Danny Carvajal's cross finds an unmarked Casemiro, who slides the ball into the bottom right-hand corner beyond De Gea.
Casemiro looked a little offside, but United should really have done better there. Real have stepped things up in the last 5/10 minutes and United have struggled to get hold of the ball.
Real playing keep-ball now, and Gareth Bale sees a useful low cross cleared. United manage to get possession back briefly but sloppily give it away almost immediately.
And as play stops for a cooling break given the intense temperatures in Skopje, United have a moment or two to catch their breath. Real are showing their class at present and Mourinho's side are finding it difficult to influence proceedings.
United get a bit of respite as Matic runs the ball out of his half confidently. His pass finds Pogba, who's fouled outside of the area, but Herrera's free kick is beyond the Serbian at the far post.
Lukaku might want a redo there! Herrera pressurises Kroos in his own half and wins the ball, but the Belgian comes to take the ball having been offside when Herrera touched it clear, and the assistant referee has their flag up.
Seconds later, Pogba finds a bit of space on the edge of Real's penalty area but his shot is deflected. Better from United, though.
And it wouldn't be a United game if it didn't feature the customary Ander Herrera Off-Target Long-Range Shot. Love that man, but his effort is well off.
Close! Antonio Valencia takes on Marcelo and gets in a great cross but Real are able to clear.
Close for Real again! Modric waltzes through United's backline, he's brought down and the ball falls to Benzema. The Frenchman's low drive is driven away by De Gea.
Good chance for Lukaku! Pogba floats a delightful cross to the Belgian and he beats Ramos, but his header is straight at Navas in the Real goal.
HALF TIME: United 0-1 Real Madrid
Casemiro's strike is the difference, with both teams making chances. Real have looked the more competent of the two, but some encouraging passages of play for Mourinho to stew over during the break.
Definitely encouraging to see Matic slot into United's starting XI so quickly; he and Valencia have been the team's best performers so far. Lukaku a little isolated, but given how Real have dominated possession, perhaps that's not too surprising.
Half time substitution for United: Jesse Lingard comes off for Marcus Rashford.
And we're underway for the second half! Can United get back into this game?
Almost an early chance for Real. Lindelof gives Benzema too much space down United's right, but thankfully Smalling is there to block the cross. De Gea then does well shortly after to divert Toni Kroos' long-range effort out for a corner.
Real just keep coming...Marcelo blasts into the area but his shot is deflected out for a corner.
Close to a rare glimpse of goal for United, there! Rashford had a 2-on-1 with Lukaku to his right, but Casemiro closes the young striker down and clears the ball.
Real are really pressurising but when United do get forward, they already look more direct. That is almost exclusively down to the presence of Rashford.
GOAL: United 0-2 Real Madrid (Isco)
Too easy. Real slice through United's defence and double their lead on 52 minutes. A one-two with Gareth Bale inside United's penalty area ends with Isco in acres of space, and the Spaniard strokes the ball home. Simple.
Oh, my! How has that stayed out? Seconds after Real double their advantage, United should halve it. Herrera's excellent cross is met by Pogba and Navas can only parry his header. Lukaku gets to the ball first but blazes over from a few yards out.
SUBSTITUTION: Second change of personnel of the night for United as Marouane Fellaini comes on for Ander Herrera.
This could get ugly for United this evening. Bale finds himself in plenty of space but blasts his shot against the cross bar with De Gea beaten again. Seconds later, Carvajal crosses low, and only a great tackle by Lindelof denies Benzema.
GOAL!!! United 1 - 2 Real Madrid
Lukaku makes up for his earlier miss with a simple tap-in! Matic's initial shot was drilled low, and Navas' spill fell to the Belgian's feet, and he made no mistake this time. Suddenly, United are right back in the game!
Fellaini's strength certainly came in handy there. He won back possession in the penalty area, found Rashford who picked out Matic in space in front of goal. United needed something given how well Real have started his second half, and they've got it.
Watching the replay, Navas will likely want to make that save again. The ball was struck hard but he's made a mess of it. Still, no complaints here!
20 minutes left for United to grab an equaliser. They've really stepped things up since Lukaku's goal.
Time for a quick water break. United still have Juan Mata and Anthony Martial on the bench should they fancy. The Frenchman's pace and trickery could certainly cause a few problems, but with Real bringing in Lucas Vasquez and Asensio on, United need to be careful that they don't leave themselves too open.
Matic curls in a great cross that hangs up nicely for Fellaini, but Ramos is there to block the Belgian! Both players currently down in a heap after a clash of heads.
Fellaini is still down and receiving treatment after that clash with Ramos. Isn't looking too good for him, which is a shame; Fellaini was troubling Real's backline with his physicality since coming on.
Maybe not! After an extended bit of treatment, Fellaini is back on with some fetching headwear after a particularly nasty blow to his nose.
So close to an equaliser! Mkhitaryan finds Rashford as United break at pace, and Navas touches his shot just beyond the far post!
Excellent work from Darmian as Real break. Marcelo blitzes down United's right flank but the Italian does well to stick with him, and pushes the ball out for a corner after Real broke with pace.
A big reception for Cristiano Ronaldo as United's former number 7 comes on for Benzema. Safe to say, United fans still have a lot of fondness for him.
The temperature's just beginning to increase a little. Danny Carvajal and Sergio Ramos both pick up bookings in the space of a few minutes. Three minutes to go; can United draw level?
United look to break, but Lukaku concedes a foul throw in his haste to get his team going again.
7 minutes of stoppage time are shown on the board and Fellaini almost makes it count! An excellent cross from Valencia is met by the Belgian but Navas gets across to save it.
And up the other end, Vasquez and Asensio combine to almost add a third! Only an excellent reaction save from De Gea denies them.
Ramos is left wide open from the resulting corner, but the centre back sends his header wide. Let-off.
United have another chance from a deep free-kick, but Real clear and it's only a Marcus Rashford tackle on Vasquez that stops the break. Rashford receives a booking for his troubles, but Vasquez made something of a meal out of it.
Two minutes to go!
Valencia tactically fouls Ronaldo on the edge of the area. The free kick is in his range, but Ronaldo blasts over.
FULL TIME: United 1-2 Real Madrid
It's all over in Skopje. Real probably edged it on the night but there were some encouraging signs for United and Mourinho tonight. Finishing again a problem, but a useful workout, even if it ended in defeat.
Well, that's it from me this evening. Thanks for joining me for tonight's live blog. United have a few days rest before getting their Premier League campaign started on Sunday at Old Trafford with the visit of West Ham United! We hope you join us for that. Have a great week.
Don't forget in the meantime, you can follow Republik of Mancunia at @R_o_M and myself at @iwanlehnert. Night!