International Champions Cup 2018


ICC: Asensio, Bale pace Real Madrid in win over Roma

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Los Blancos may not have their entire compliment of superstars just yet, but they’re looking just fine without Cristiano Ronaldo in preseason.

Real Madrid earned a 2-1 win over Roma on Tuesday night at MetLife Stadium behind goals from Marco Asensio and Gareth Bale in the team’s International Champions Cup finale.

The La Liga giants scored twice in the opening 15 minutes, with Bale and Asensio connecting for the opener just two minutes into the match.

Bale picked out a tremendous out-the-foot ball over the top of the Roma back line to play in Asensio, who finished comfortably, before the former Spurs attacker doubled the Madrid lead 13 minutes later.

Roma had an opportunity to pull the scoreline back in the dying minutes, as Kevin Srootman made it 2-1, but the Serie A side wasn’t able to find a second goal.

Alexis leads Man United past Real Madrid; Spurs, Roma win

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The International Champions Cup brought some power matches to the preseason pitch on Wednesday, and two of the three brought some real entertainment.

[ MORE: Modric interested in Inter ]

Manchester United 2-1 Real Madrid

Alexis Sanchez’s wonder assist joined his opening goal to make him the easy Man of the Match as Jose Mourinho’s men emerged victorious from Miami Gardens.

Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid, but the reigning UEFA Champions League victors couldn’t find a second against United’s defense.

Now back to Alexis’ assist. Consider the athleticism involved in nodding this Juan Mata cross into the path of Ander Herrera. Insane.

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 AC Milan

Georges-Kevin N’Koudou’s early second half hammer in Minneapolis was enough to let Spurs leave the ICC with two wins and a loss in penalties.

Barcelona 2-4 AS Roma

Rafinha gave Barcelona a 1-0 lead before Justin Kluivert fed Stephan El Shaarawy to leave it level at the break in Arlington.

New winger Malcom restored Barca’s lead from an assist courtesy former Montreal Impact man Ballou Tabla, but that was about all she wrote for the Blaugranas. Alessandro Florenzi, Bryan Cristante, and Diego Perotti scored thrice in eight minutes to hand Barca its first loss of the preseason.

Rafinha’s goal was pretty nice, though.

Arsenal beat PSG in Singapore

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Arsenal beat Paris Saint-Germain 5-1 in Singapore on Saturday, with Mesut Ozil opening the scoring, Alexandre Lacazette scoring twice then Rob Holding and Eddie Nketiah added a goal each as the Gunners finished their preseason in the Far East in style.

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Unai Emery will have been impressed with his team in their International Champions Cup encounter in front of over 50,000 fans, most of whom were supporting Arsenal, while Thomas Tuchel’s PSG were missing several stars after the World Cup but their youngsters showed flashes of promise throughout.

PSG played well early on but Arsenal took the lead as Ozil, captain for the day, finished calmly from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross.

Young midfielder Matteo Guendouzi impressed as Arsenal dominated possession but PSG had some half chances with USMNT teeenager Tim Weah going close twice.

Christopher Nkunku almost scored a beauty as he wriggled free of the Arsenal defense and clipped the crossbar with his effort. Gianluigi Buffon saved well from Aubameyang and the Arsenal striker also had a goal disallowed in an open game.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan should have doubled Arsenal’s lead but hit his shot straight at Buffon. The Gunners almost made it 2-0 before the break as Shkodran Mustafi headed off target.

In the second half substitute goalkeeper Enzo Martinez saved well from Nkunku’s long-range free kick. Then Weah won a penalty kick as his pace saw him glide past Sead Kolasinac who tripped the USMNT forward in the box. Nkunku sent Martinez the wrong way from the spot to make it 1-1.

Arsenal then made plenty of substitutes and they made an instant impact with Emile Smith-Rowe, on his 18th birthday, whipping in a lovely cross to the near post which Lacazette flicked home superbly. Four minutes later it was 3-1 as Lacaztte nodded home off the post to score his second in quick succession.

Weah then caused more problems on the break with his pace over the top but his effort was blocked and then Joseph Willock curled towards the far corner for Arsenal but PSG substitute Sebastien Cibois saved well.

Late on Cibois denied Reiss Nelson well and from the resulting corner Holding crashed home a long-range header into the top corner to make it 4-1, then Nketiah made it 5-1 with the last kick of the game with a fine finish across goal to wrap things up in style.

Next up for Arsenal: an ICC clash against London rivals Chelsea in Dublin on Aug. 1 as Emery continues to prepare for his first season in the English game.

Youth gives Guardiola, Man City glimpse of squad depth

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NEW JERSEY — Preseason gives clubs an opportunity to take a look at a variety of players, whether they may be squad regulars, fringe players, newcomers or reserves.

[ MORE: Three things from Liverpool-Man City ]

In Manchester City’s case, the Premier League champions have carried many of the latter during their International Champions Cup tour in the United States, largely due to the fact that their stars are still recovering from a long 2017/18 PL season, in addition to duties at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

No Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva or Sergio Aguero meant more time for manager Pep Guardiola to get a glimpse of young talents like Phil Foden and Jack Harrison, both of whom have made the most of their opportunity in a crowded Man City midfield.

Despite two consecutive ICC defeats over the past week, Guardiola remains pleased with what he has seen from his young players, who had the lead against Liverpool prior to the introduction of Mohamed Salah in the second half.

“It’s incredible what we have done,” Guardiola said. “For 75 minutes we are incredible against that team, playing in the final of the Champions League and those kind of amazing players we have I am so, so proud. I’m happy to be managers of those guys.

“We made 75 minutes incredible but the last 15 minutes we were so tired and there were some changes and of course their quality of the attacking players they deserved to score more goals at the end.”

The ICC has been important for City on the defensive side as well, with youthful players like 17-year-old Eric Garcia and 19-year-old Cameron Humphreys-Grant earning significant minutes for a back line that conceded the fewest amount of goals in 2017/18.

While the Citizens’ youth has been the main focal point since arriving in America, the club has brought along two key figures in the attacking third, with Leroy Sane and first-year winger Riyad Mahrez — who joined from Leicester City this summer.

Sane was impactful for the Citizens on Wednesday, scoring just 12 minutes into the second half after being brought on by Guardiola.

Meanwhile, despite playing with mainly reserves in the first stanza, Mahrez displayed his creativity and pace on several occasions for Man City.

[ MORE: Salah, Mane shine with brilliant second half for Liverpool ]

Guardiola believes that despite building a strong resume last season at the Etihad Stadium that the best has yet to come for Sane, making him a dangerous work in progress.

“It depends on him,” Guardiola told reporters. “He needs more minutes and he needs to regain his principles in terms of playing without the ball. He has the talent to do that and we are happy that he scored. Still, he is far away from his best.”

Guardiola prayed for no injuries on bumpy pitch

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NEW JERSEY — Two of the biggest clubs in Europe met on Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium, and while the English giants handled the situation admirably, one of the biggest stories of the evening involved in the venue itself.

[ MORE: Three things from Liverpool’s win over Man City ]

The Meadowlands stadium played host to Liverpool and Manchester City, with the Reds coming away with a 2-1 victory courtesy of a late penalty kick conversion from Sadio Mane.

However, the pitch was a big concern for both sides coming into the match due to the poor shape it was in.

Groundskeepers only laid the grass down early Wednesday morning, after MetLife Stadium had hosted a Taylor Swift concert three days prior.

For Man City boss Pep Guardiola, he simply hoped that none of his players would suffer any setbacks ahead of the new Premier League season.

“This [pitch] happened in my first season with Barcelona and and I was so angry, so upset,” Guardiola said following the match. “I grew up and am a more mature guy. I look to the other side. It is business. We pray before the game that there would be no injuries and that’s what happened.

“We know what we have to do but it is always the same. It is a business. For the teams, it doesn’t matter.”