Miami : Jose Mourinho was finally given something to smile about as a tempestuous trip to the United States ended with a 2-1 victory 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 United States, 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 Real at bay after Karim Benezema’s goal just before the interval gave the Spanish side hope of mounting a comeback.
An extraordinary outburst last weekend after losing to Liverpool in Michigan has seen question marks about squad morale surface once again.
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 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 starting a move which saw Benzema fire just wide from close range.
Brazilian Fred was making his first United start and looked comfortable in his new surroundings.
And on 18 minutes, United were ahead. Ander Herrera fed Matteo Darmian and teed up Sanchez who clinically swept the ball home. It was a Mourinho’s side’s first real opportunity – and it was taken superbly. So too was the second goal which arrived on 27 minutes.
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. It was their first win in regulation play this pre-season – AC Milan were defeated on penalties in Los Angeles last week.
Roma stun Barca
In Arlington, AS Roma scored three goals in the second half to beat Barcelona 4-2 after trailing initially in the pre-season International Champions Cup football tournament here.
Barcelona began brilliantly on Tuesday, attacking the Roma goal in quick succession, with Rafinha scoring in the sixth minute.
The Italian side equalised in the 35th minute when Stephen El Sharaarawy got a perfect pass from Justin Kluivert in the penalty area and converted.
Barcelona began the second half in style, with a 49th minute goal from their new Brazilian recruit Malcom.
Alessandro Florensi equalized in the 78th minute and Bryan Cristante made it 3-2 in the 83rd minute.
Diego Perotti sealed the match for Roma by scoring a penalty in the 86th minute.
Barcelona will play their last match of the friendly series on Saturday against AC Milan at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.