After three bore draws and one embarrassing loss, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United finally managed to secure a win on their tour of the United States, edging European champions Real Madrid 2-1 on Wednesday morning thanks to goals from Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.
While the English giants did beat AC Milan after penalties last week, the tie had ended in a 1-1 draw after the regulation 90 minutes.
Mourinho, reportedly the bookies’ favourite to get sacked first, has moaned and moaned about the lack of quality personnel available to him, for a variety of reasons, and has very much looked like a man who’s paving the way for his exit.
However, it looks like the Special One might just stick around after seeing his team, bolstered by the returning David de Gea, play some excellent football for the first time in recent memory.
United, having played a number of games stateside, started off the stronger of the sides while Julen Lopetegui’s Real Madrid, playing their first game of the summer, looked a bit leggy in the opening exchanges.
And the Red Devils would make their early dominance count as Sanchez converted Matteo Darmian’s cutback from the line in the 18th minute to break the deadlock.
The Premier League outfit weren’t settling on their 1-0 lead and continued to harry their opponents higher up the pitch and this time, Sanchez would turn provider for Herrera to fire home a fierce half-volley from inside the box.
Sanchez struggled to make an impact since arriving in January, but he’s been the standout player for United in pre-season and the Chilean looks like he’s raring to go for the 2018/19 campaign.
Real had named a very strong side for the first-half and while Vinicius Junior was causing United’s defence all sorts of problems with his pace and trickery, it looked like the Red Devils would weather the storm till half-time.
It wasn’t to be, as deep in injury-time, fullback Theo Hernandez’s pinpoint delivery found compatriot Karim Benzema and the French forward tapped in to reduce the deficit with the final kick of the first-half.
Lopetetgui’s men took charge in the second period somewhat, but thanks to their own profligacy and some smart saves from de Gea, were unable to draw level.
Norwegian prodigy Martin Odegaard and Spanish forward Borya Mayoral were guilty of wastefulness in front of goal and as the referee signalled full time, Real tasted defeat in the first tie of the Lopetegui era.
United fly back to Manchester now and will face Bayern Munich in their final pre-season fixture on Sunday (2345 IST) at the Allianz Arena.
The fact that several of their targets have not been acquired will sting Mourinho, but at least some of his squad are performing at the desired levels and he can take plenty of positives from the tie against his former employers.
For Real, not much should be read into the defeat as they now face Serie A giants Juventus on Saturday night.