Manchester United are the new International Champions Cup holders after defeating Liverpool 3-1 in the final…
Results and performances in pre-season should always be taken with a pinch of salt but it’s never nice to lose to your most bitter of rivals, whatever the circumstances.
Both sides had impressed on their way to the International Champions Cup final in Miami but during the opening 45 minutes there looked set to be only one winner.
In their first ‘friendly’ meeting in over 30 years, Liverpool, who reached this stage by topping a group comprising of Olympiacos, Manchester City and AC Milan, dominated the first half and should have had the tournament, and a $1million win bonus, well and truly wrapped up.
Instead they only had a 14th minute Steven Gerrard penalty, awarded after Phil Jones had upended the impressive Raheem Sterling, to show for their endeavours.
Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho went close to adding a second, while Sterling had another strong penalty claim ignored when new £28million signing Ander Herrera clipped his heels.
The start of the second half was also dominated by the men in yellow as Rickie Lambert and Sterling missed further opportunities to hand their side a two-goal buffer.
It was to prove costly as two goals in as many minutes shortly before the hour mark turned the contest on its head.
Firstly, Wayne Rooney neatly converted a Javier Hernandez cross at the back post and then Juan Mata’s strike took a telling deflection off Mamadou Sakho, leaving Simon Mignolet with no chance of making a save.
A bizarre moment appeared to gift United a third when a cross from Ashley Young hit the stanchion behind the goal before rebounding back into the field of play for Rooney to tuck home.
To the amazement of everyone involved the ‘goal’ was initially allowed to stand before some bemused protests and big screen replays convinced the officials to change their minds.
The reprieve mattered little as Liverpool, despite the usual batch of substitutions, ran out of gas in the latter stages.
Late Red Devils replacement Jesse Lingard completed the scoring with a firm finish from the edge of the area two minutes from time.
Despite the defeat, Kop boss Brendan Rodgers was happy with the progress made by his players during a tour of America which featured five games in 12 days.
“Overall I’m delighted with the whole tournament and what it’s done for us,” commented the 41-year-old after the final whistle.
“It seems like we’ve been away a long time, but we’ve worked very hard and we’ll leave here with lots of positives and with two weeks to look forward to the new season.”
The Merseysiders complete their pre-season preparations on Sunday when German giants Borussia Dortmund visit Anfield.
Mignolet, Kelly, Johnson, Skrtel, Sakho (Toure 74), Gerrard (Lucas 63), Allen (Can 63), Henderson, Coutinho (Peterson 77), Lambert (Ibe 63), Sterling.
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