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Juan Mata a doubt for Manchester United's tour games against Manchester City and Real Madrid after suffering ankle injury

 

Juan Mata could miss Manchester United's next two tour games against Manchester City and Real Madrid after suffering an ankle injury that triggered a bizarre turn of events in Utah.

Mata limped off, clearly unhappy with a challenge from Sebastian Saucedo, and his United team-mate Antonio Valencia took retribution with an ugly tackle from behind on the Real Salt Lake midfielder.

While Saucedo — who later left the Rio Tinto Stadium on crutches — received lengthy treatment, American referee Allen Chapman warned Jose Mourinho to take off Valencia or the Ecuador international would be sent off.

When Mourinho stubbornly refused the referee's request and a similar plea from Real coach Mike Petke, Valencia was shown a red card more than two minutes after committing the offence. Mourinho said: 'I think the delay was because the referee asked me to change the player and I didn't because I don't agree with the card.

'Saucedo, I think is the name of the boy, was really aggressive in the second half. Some other actions were a bit dangerous. 'It's young people with enthusiasm playing against Manchester United, but it's a friendly match and it's a different mentality.'

Petke approached Mourinho and urged him to replace Valencia because he did not want his team to play against 10 men, but he insisted that Saucedo did not mean to hurt Mata.

'I want my guys to get a real game against one of the best in the world, so if he feels that way he has got a hell of a lot more experience than me,' said Petke. 'I don't think there was an intent with the Mata thing and I think that was a red card with what happened with Valencia — with all due respect to my mentor and my favourite manager, Mourinho.' Mata was on United's flight back to their Los Angeles training base straight after the game, but he is a doubt for the Manchester derby in Houston in the early hours of Friday morning and the clash with Real Madrid in Santa Clara at the weekend. 'Mata has a big ankle but I hope nothing important,' said Mourinho. 'A few days, a week maybe.'