Pre-season tour ends with 2-1 defeat at Lillestrom's Arasen Stadion...
UNITED 1 (Adeyemi 25), HOFFENHEIM 2 (Uth 2, Zuber 67)
United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor (Cooper 65), Adeyemi (Sloth 84), Cook (Phillips 15), Mowatt (Walters 85), Byram (Erwin 80), Doukara (Antenucci 61), Wood (Morison 80). Subs. Turnbull, Coyle, Wootton, Horton.
Hoffenheim team: Baumann, Schar, Schmid, Strobl, Toljan, Schwegler, Uth, Kim, Sule, Ochs, Volland. Subs. Grahl, Rudy, Zuber, Amiri, Elyounoussi, Rapp, Szalai, Mees, Gimber, Promel, Joelinton, Schindler, Kapp.
Booked: Phillips, Bamba, Cooper (United)
Just under 3,000 United supporters descended on Lillestrom SK’s Arasen Stadion in Norway for the final friendly of the pre-season tour – a meeting with highly-rated Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim.
Uwe Rosler had anticipated a “top drawer” test ahead of kick-off, and that looked to be the case within just two minutes of the game getting underway as Hoffenheim took an early lead, Mark Uth unleashing an unstoppable strike into Marco Silvestri’s top corner.
United looked to respond, with Chris Wood glancing Alex Mowatt’s whipped free-kick just wide of the far post but some stern defending was required at the opposite end as Sol Bamba was well-placed to block a corner on the line.
The 15th minute of the game brought a worrying sight for United supporters as Lewis Cook was forced off after picking up a knock during the early stages.
Uth almost added a second spectacular goal to his name with a curling effort which clipped the top of Silvestri’s crossbar, while Kalvin Phillips – Cook’s replacement in midfield – carved out United’s best opening with a free-kick that was headed inches wide of the post by Souleymane Doukara.
Rosler’s men did manage to pull level on 25 minutes following a well-worked corner routine. Mowatt’s floated deliver was nodded back across goal by the towering Sam Byram, finding Doukara to flick into the path of Tom Adeyemi to sweep home his first goal in United colours from six yards out.
United were visibly growing in confidence as the game progressed and Byram could only loft a volley onto the roof of Baumann’s net after a bursting run and back-post cross from Charlie Taylor had picked him out arriving inside the area.
The scoreline remained even going into half-time and only the heroics of Silvestri ensured it remained that way in the opening stages of the second period, as the United goalkeeper denied substitute Tarik Elyounoussi with a strong stop one-on-one.
The Italian then needed to be alert to beat away Jonathan Schmid’s goal-bound free-kick with two hands, but there was little he could do to prevent Hoffenheim from re-taking the lead on 67 minutes as substitute Steven Zuber turned home a low cross from close-range.
A raft of second-half changes from both sides slowed the pace of the game somewhat, but United had fresh legs in their new three-pronged attack of Mirco Antenucci, Steve Morison and Lee Erwin.
Lewis Walters was also introduced in the closing stages as United pushed for a late equaliser, but there proved to be no way through in the penultimate pre-season friendly of the summer.