Soccer

United beats Madrid to close tour

AFP-JIJI

Jose Mourinho was finally given something to smile about as a tempestuous trip to the United States 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 the two week trip to the U.S., lashing out at a lack of transfer activity while reserving stinging criticism for a number of first-team players.

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

“I didn’t learn anything (from this tour),” said Mourinho. “I know what Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Alexis Sanchez are.

“I know the kids are very young and need time to grow up, I know my players gave everything and 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.”

The Portuguese has been without 12 key players for most of the tour with many enjoying an extended break following the World Cup.

In front of 64,141 at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, United was finishing off its preseason preparations against a Madrid side just starting its.

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

Brazilian Fred, who was signed earlier this summer for £52 million ($68 million), was making his first United start and looked comfortable in his new surroundings.

And on 18 minutes, United was ahead. Herrera fed Matteo Darmian and 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,” said Mourinho.

The second goal which arrived on 27 minutes was equally impressive.

Darmian lifted the ball to Mata and once the Spaniard had regained his composure he crossed for Sanchez, who was able to divert the ball into the path of Herrera who made no mistake.

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.