Thu, Aug 02, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Manchester United hold on to beat Real Madrid 2-1

AFP, MIAMI

Jose Mourinho was finally given something to smile about as a tempestuous trip to the US ended with Manchester United’s 2-1 win over former club Real Madrid thanks to first-half strikes from Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera.

Mourinho has cut a miserable figure during their two-week trip to the US, lashing out at a lack of transfer activity while reserving stinging criticism for a number of first-team players.

However, seeing his side establish a two-goal lead in the first half was encouraging, as was holding Real at bay after Karim Benezema’s goal just before the interval gave the Spanish side hope of mounting a comeback.

“I didn’t learn anything [from this tour],” Mourinho said. “I know what Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez are. I know my players gave everything. In the last 15 minutes, we are dead and they bring on Toni Kroos and Asensio and Isco — and I thought we wouldn’t resist, but we did.”

“That’s the spirit we need because our first two or three weeks in the Premier League are going to be really hard for us, because we didn’t prepare for that,” he added.

The United side have been without 12 key players for most of the tour with many enjoying an extended break following the FIFA World Cup.

In front of 64,141 spectators at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, United were finishing off their pre-season preparations against a Real Madrid side just starting theirs.

La Liga starts a week later than the Premier League, so new Real manager Julen Lopetegui was able to name the likes of Gareth Bale to start while Germany star Toni Kroos was on the bench.

Spanish international David de Gea was making his first start since returning from the extra time given to him following the World Cup and he was almost beaten in the eighth minute — Bale started a move that saw Benzema fire just wide from close range.

At 18 minutes, United were ahead. Herrera fed Matteo Darmian and he teed up Sanchez, who clinically swept the ball home.

It was United’s first real opportunity — and it was taken superbly.

“Alexis Sanchez is fresh. The way the man is running, I think he is in a fantastic condition,” Mourinho said.

The second goal, which arrived at 27 minutes, was equally impressive.

Darmian lifted the ball to Mata and once the Spaniard had regained his composure, he crossed for Sanchez. He was able to divert the ball into the path of Herrera, who did not miss.

Bale curled wide soon after, but just before the interval Benzema tapped in an excellent Theo Hernandez-cross to give the vast amounts of Madrid fans in Miami something to cheer about.

Bale, a one-time target for Mourinho, was withdrawn for the second half as Lopetegui shuffled his pack. One of the substitutes, Martin Odegaard, should have leveled at 56 minutes when he blazed over the bar from close range.

The Norwegian saw a free-kick saved by De Gea late on, but United held firm to lift Mourinho’s mood.

It was their first victory in regulation play this pre-season — AC Milan were defeated on penalties in Los Angeles last week.

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