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Byline: SAMUEL LUCKHURST @samuelluckhurst

EARLY reports of Scott McTominay's inclusion in the team at the expense of Paul Pogba led those huddled inside a chilly Old Trafford to doubt the accuracy of the news. Not so.

The French international was dropped and 21-year-old McTominay was selected ahead of the world's most expensive midfielder.

United pined for Pogba for much of the hour he spent on the bench or warming his muscles on the touchline.

Those opening months of the season when the Reds had victory assured by half-time are a distant memory and it was alarming to witness a side assembled at great expense fail to break down relegation fodder during the first half.

Romelu Lukaku's touch turned attack into defence, the centre was congested with fleet-footed footballers while Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw failed to provide sufficient width. Some spoilt supporters booed.

Alexis Sanchez's white shorts were almost black at full-time, muddied by the targeted fouling.

He was United's outstanding performer for the third match running and J Stand began singing his name.

Just like at Tottenham in midweek, Mourinho resisted an interval change and the second half was not a minute old when he instructed Pogba, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to start warming up. The sight of the trio may have galvanised United as Lukaku classily volleyed in Juan Mata's swept cross in front of the Stretford End. Pogba still emerged in the 64th minute to joyous cheers, and the Frenchman's verve enlivened the attack.

Including the combative McTominay suggested Mourinho was still mindful of the cowed account certain players gave in the defeat at Huddersfield in October. It was a steely side when silk was required and it was appropriate that the mercurial Mata and Sanchez undid the Yorkshire artisans.

Mourinho's axe was sharpened in anticipation of Huddersfield's visit, and it fell on Pogba, Ashley Young and Martial. Phil Jones was the other change, only he was not included in the matchday squad.

The stars aligned for McTominay in a week where Mourinho rebuked Pogba at Wembley, Marouane Fellaini succumbed to injury and Ander Herrera did not make Saturday's squad.

Darren Fletcher, Darron Gibson and Tom Cleverley are three academy midfielders who incurred the wrath from their own supporters in recent memory but McTominay seems to be cut from coarser cloth. He recovered from a bruising challenge by Philip Billing before Terence Kongolo poleaxed him inside the Huddersfield area. Inexplicably, referee Stuart Attwell ignored a patent penalty.

Sanchez started on the left again, with Mata recalled on the right and Jesse Lingard positioned behind Lukaku.

The Chilean was the most enterprising of the forwards during the blunt first period and was persistently fouled - a tactic which resulted in a 69th minute penalty Sanchez elected to take.

Previous No.7s usually converted from 12 yards but, in keeping with United's recent pitiful penalty record, Sanchez was unsuccessful but netted on the rebound for a home debut goal.

Mourinho experimented on the day United remembered the victims of the Munich air disaster as the 60th anniversary looms. He wanted the Reds to provide 'joy and happiness'. Sanchez did.

| ANTHONY MARTIAL'S POSITION MAY CHANGE HAVING been banished to the right at Wembley, Anthony Martial's week got a whole lot worse when he was left out of the starting line-up altogether against Huddersfield. And he had to wait until the 77th minute to make amends.

WHAT Jose Mourinho threw him on up front in place of Romelu Lukaku and, after another fine display from Juan Mata on the right, Martial is quickly running out of potential starting slots.

With Alexis Sanchez playing his first three games on the left, you have to wonder whether Martial and, indeed, Marcus Rashford will get many opportunities on their favoured flank going forward.

| SANCHEZ FEELS RIGHT AT HOME THERE might yet be an official chant, but Alexis Sanchez will have enjoyed his home debut at Old Trafford, a moment he has dreamt of since he was a boy in Tocopilla.

WE KELLY It does not get much better than a knee slide in front of the Stretford End - even if United's new No.7 fluffed his penalty initially - and the Chilean's work-rate, dribbles and invention went down very well with his new supporters.

| THE FLOWERS OF MANCHESTER AS fans quibbled about Jose Mourinho's decision to drop both Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial in pubs dotted around Sir Matt Busby Way, it was easy to forget that this was more than just a football match.

At 1.30pm, fans gathered outside Old Trafford at the Munich memorial to pay tribute to those souls who perished in the Munich Air Disaster to sing, to pray, to remember before a 'We'll Never Die' banner was later unfurled at the Stretford End ahead of kick-off.

Edwards, Taylor, Whelan, Pegg, Jones, Colman, Byrne and Bent were more than just gifted footballers. They were the Flowers of Manchester.

? Munich tribute: See News Page 3 starting against There might chant, will home ANALYSIS he WHAT WE in LEARNED much knee the CIARAN KELLY Mata


Alexis Sanchez celebrates his first United goal after Romelu Lukaku had put the Reds
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Date:Feb 5, 2018
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