Mauro Icardi scored the decisive penalty in a 3-2 shootout win for Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup against Real Madrid.
The two clubs were tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, with the friendly jumping right to the shootout instead of having an extra time period. The shootout was tied 2-2 when Omar Mascarell's shot sailed over the bar, giving Icardi a chance to win the match.
The friendly, played at California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California, was somewhat historic in that it was the first game club legend Javier Zanetti assumed the role of club vice president, per Inter:
The 40-year-old Zanetti retired last year after spending the past 19 seasons at the San Siro as a player. Although he was injured for much of the 2013/14 campaign, it felt odd to watch an Inter Milan match in which Zanetti was no longer part of the team.
Saturday's match might not count for anything, but don't tell that to Inter manager Walter Mazzarri. Heading into Saturday, he spoke about how much this friendly meant for his club.
"It doesn't matter if the team is suffering from pain, I want to try to embarrass the best team in Europe," said Mazzarri, per Goal's Alec Fenn. "The Guinness Cup will be a big test for everyone and give us something to evaluate ahead of the coming weeks. During this phase you have to evaluate the performance regardless of the result."
Although Inter Milan didn't "embarrass" Real Madrid, getting the win over the reigning European champions was an encouraging result.
The result was somewhat surprising given how quickly Madrid got going.
In the 11th minute, Inter failed to close down Gareth Bale, allowing the Welshman to dribble for a few yards before unleashing a 25-yard rocket into the back of the net. Samir Handanovic was completely frozen in place as he watched Bale's shot swerve ever so slightly to the left and then the right. He had no idea where the ball was going.
The goal was one of the best you'll see all preseason.
Goal's Ben Hayward thought that Bale's performance on Saturday contrasted starkly with how his preseason unfolded last year:
Last year, Gareth Bale didn't have a pre-season. This year, he's already scoring screamers.— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) July 26, 2014
His prolonged transfer from Tottenham Hotspur prevented the world-class winger from working out much with his new club before the league season began. With an entire summer to prepare, who knows what he's capable of this year?
After going down 1-0, Inter struggled to find an equalizer. However, they received a lifeline in the 68th minute in the form of a penalty kick. Madrid's Ruben Sobrino was judged to have fouled Nemanja Vidic in the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Fox Soccer Trax felt that the correct decision was made by the official:
To go back to the penalty - Real Madrid's Ruben Sobrino pushed Nemanja Vidic during the corner - correct call by the ref— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) July 26, 2014
Icardi stepped up to the spot and calmly slotted the penalty home, making it 1-1.
Inter nearly took a 2-1 lead in the 79th minute, with Vidic and Marco Andreolli both having their shots saved by Madrid shot-stopper Jesus. Jesus' denial on Andreolli was particularly impressive because of his quick recovery and reactions.
Madrid responded six minutes later with Mascarell testing Inter goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo for the first time in the match. Carrizo saved the shot and pounced on the ball before any other Madrid player could knock in the rebound.
That was the last of the real scoring opportunities before the match went to penalties.
What the game lacked in goals, it covered for with hard fouls. Despite this only being an exhibition, tension was running high between both teams.
Vidic made contact with what looked to be an elbow on Lucas Vazquez early in the match but failed to draw a card, which upset the Madrid players. That set the tone for what was to come.
Andrea Ranocchia clattered into the back of Raul de Tomas in the 29th minute, earning himself a yellow card.
Immediately after the second half began, De Tomas brought down Inter defender Dodo with a rash tackle. The two players argued for a bit, with Daniel Carvajal and Ruben Botta joining the fray. Players from both benches also got involved.
Brawl breaks out! Dodo furious at a Raul de Tomas challenge and reacts with pushing and shoving #RealMadridvsInter— footballitalia (@footballitalia) July 26, 2014
It was a somewhat ugly scene, especially for a friendly. De Tomas was given a yellow card.
That extra edge did add some intrigue to what was an otherwise uninteresting friendly.
Those hoping to see some of Madrid's newest signings were disappointed to find that Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez were both absent. Cristiano Ronaldo didn't feature in the friendly, either.
Carlo Ancelotti opted instead for what was a slightly younger side, featuring some from the Castilla side, including de Tomas, Diego Llorente, Lucas Vazquez and Alvaro Medran.
Friendlies are generally terrible barometers for a club's future performance, and with so many players missing from what will be Madrid's first team, you couldn't get any sort of read about whether Los Blancos can succeed with so many high-profile purchases from Saturday's match.
Managing Madrid commented that the early returns were at least promising:
It must be said, this friendly has had more bite, energy, and intensity than any preseason opener I can remember from the past few years!— Managing Madrid (@managingmadrid) July 26, 2014
Inter's performance wasn't pretty, but they defended well. And if this is how physical they play in a friendly, you can only guess how they'll be once the Serie A season begins. Going into tackles as the Inter Milan players did won't earn them many friends from Madrid, but that kind of toughness and physicality will help the club get back into the top three in Italy.
|Raul de Tomas||B-|
Real Madrid will take the pitch again on Tuesday against Roma in Dallas. Coverage starts on Fox Sports 2 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Inter Milan are also in action on Tuesday. They take on Manchester United in Landover, Maryland. NBC is carrying the friendly, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.