Very little has gone right for Manchester United on this tour of the US, but they should just be grateful for whoever approved Alexis Sanchez’s travel visa.
The Chile star missed the first week of the trip over the hold-up and trained alone at Carrington. Since joining his teammates in America, however, he has led the attack almost single-handedly at times.
Here at the Hard Rock Stadium, Sanchez scored one and set up another as Jose Mourinho’s side ended the trip on a high note against the European champions.
Man of the match Sanchez fired United into the lead after 18 minutes, converting Matteo Darmian’s neat cut-back, and his knockdown set up Ander Herrera for their second nine minutes later.
Karim Benzema reduced the deficit in first-half stoppage-time and Madrid improved in the second period with Raul De Tomas spurning a glorious chance to level on 82 minute.
But United held on for the morale-boosting win to ensure Julen Lopetegui’s first game in charge of Real Madrid ended in defeat.
Granted, this was an unfamiliar and under-cooked Real Madrid side. But when you have experienced such a problematic tour as United have in the US, then it’s best to take whatever positives you can.
Mourinho and his depleted squad flew home straight after the match after an arduous three weeks, and have a win over Madrid to add to a shootout victory over AC Milan.
A heavy 4-1 defeat by Liverpool is best forgotten, as are the draws against Club America and San Jose Earthquakes, but at least it isn’t all doom and gloom despite the manager’s downcast mood.
Mourinho’s extraordinary outburst about the state of the tour and the squad available to him had overshadowed United’s defeat by Liverpool in Michigan and the build-up to this one as well.
The United manager could at least welcome back David De Gea, a goalkeeper so often linked with Real Madrid, and give his new £52million signing Fred a 67-minute run-out on his first start.
But with Chris Smalling unable to play after going off in the warm-up on Saturday, Mourinho had no choice but to play Scott McTominay in a back-three alongside Eric Bailly and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Having said that Bailly ‘isn’t a leader’ at the weekend, it was surprising to see the Ivory Coast defender given the captain’s armband.