Real Madrid vs. Manchester United: Score, Grades & Reaction for Champions Cup

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Real Madrid vs. Manchester United: Score, Grades & Reaction for Champions Cup
AP Images

The final round of group games in the International Champions Cup saw Manchester United beat Real Madrid 3-1 to win a place in the final.

After a slow start to the game, Ashley Young scored twice, either side of a Gareth Bale penalty, while Javier Hernandez scored late on.

While Louis van Gaal continued with his 3-5-2 system, operating with an attacking trio of Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck from the start, Real Madrid utilised Isco as a false-nine forward in a 4-3-3.

The opening stages were largely cagey, though United were clearly the superior team in terms of fitness and off-the-ball movement, dominating possession without breaking clear too often. With both wing-backs pushing on quickly after transitions in play, United looked to overload Real down the channels and free up Juan Mata to get on the ball as often as possible.

Mata provided the first impressive moment of the game, dribbling past Luka Modric to open up space for his team-mates—but the Spaniard was the only United outfield player who didn't touch the ball in the buildup to the opening goal.

Darren Fletcher and Rooney were heavily involved, before Welbeck set up Young to fire home inside Iker Casillas' near post. It was a deserved lead for United, but it didn't last long.

Tony Ding/Associated Press

After Bale burst past Michael Keane down the left, the young defender dragged him to the ground inside the penalty box. Bale drilled the resulting penalty kick, knotting the game at 1-1.

Shortly afterward, he almost scored a tremendous overhead kick, but David De Gea thwarted the effort.

At the opposite end, Rooney just missed a Young cross from the left. Fortuitously, it curled past Casillas, finding the far corner of the net to put United back in front. 

The English side went close a few more times, as they saw out the half, with two Mata-Rooney set-piece combinations particularly impressive.

After the break, Real were far more adventurous and looked to play at a faster tempo, but Bale always made the main running for them and looked the biggest threat.

His runs down the left and subsequent cutbacks found Isco on two occasions, but one shot was blocked and another deflected and then, well, saved by De Gea.

A spate of substitutes saw both teams alternately control the game in the second half, but the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Cristiano Ronaldo's entrance as a sub with 15 minutes left. He couldn't help Real turn the game around, though, and Hernandez headed in Shinji Kagawa's cross shortly after.

United saw out the game to win 3-1 in front of a record crowd and will play Liverpool in the final in Miami on Monday.

 

Key Player Grades

Gareth Bale, Real Madrid, FWD: A

A quiet start for Bale was largely due to Real's slow pace of play, but he burst into life with his dribble and subsequent penalty. Thereafter he was Real's biggest threat, looking to run beyond United's back three at every opportunity, and he almost netted a brilliant second.

Throughout the game, he was Real's best attacking outlet. He linked up well with forwards Isco and Raul de Tomas and could have easily scored again himself.

 

Wayne Rooney, Man United, FWD: B

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Rooney was heavily involved in United's buildup play and really benefited from the off-the-ball movement of Welbeck and Mata, but his own work rate and ball use was impressive. He found both with regularity and looked to both instigate and spearhead United's attacks.

He didn't feature as much in the second half as Real took more control of the game.

 

Darren Fletcher, Man United, MID: A

Fletcher played two distinct roles: the onrushing central midfielder, linking play and breaking lines in the first half while Ander Herrera sat behind him and the more destructive, disciplined option in the second half to allow Kagawa to roam forward.

He excelled at both, particularly in the first half, and showed signs he is really returning to the player of old.

 

Post-Game Reaction

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