Young nets double, Ronaldo appears as Man United beat Real Madrid in front of 109,000
The largest crowd to watch a football match in the United States – 109,318 – poured into Michigan Stadium on Saturday to see Manchester United beat Real Madrid 3-1 in a friendly.
The appeal of two of the world’s most iconic sports clubs attracted fans to the International Champions Cup match at the University of Michigan’s American football stadium in Ann Arbor.
The previous US record attendance for a football match was 101,799 at the 1984 Olympic final between France and Brazil at the Rose Bowl in California.
The largest crowd ever to watch a football match was at the 1950 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro when 173,850 paying spectators came to the Maracana for the Brazil-Uruguay final clash, though unofficial estimates put the attendance as high as 210,000.
“That was incredible,” United’s Michael Keane said. “Obviously, it is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of, and it is for a friendly in the States. I’ve always heard they don’t care for our football, but there were 109,000 people out there. That’s pretty crazy anywhere in the world.”
Two first-half goals by Ashley Young proved enough to help United beat the European champions on Saturday despite Real’s world record signing Gareth Bale scoring from the penalty spot.
Young’s first goal was the highlight. Wayne Rooney flicked a clever back-heel to Darren Fletcher, who found Danny Welbeck in the middle, near the edge of the penalty area. Welbeck played Young in on the left, and his low shot beat goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
“It was a fantastic goal,” United manager Louis van Gaal said. “All the team has touched the ball, I think. Only for that goal, you come to the stadium.”
United’s win means they advance to Monday’s final in Miami, where they will meet traditional English rivals Liverpool.
The crowd got an added bonus when Cristiano Ronaldo made a surprise appearance for Madrid in place of Alvaro Arbeloa in the 74th minute, having been ruled out of contention before the match with what was reported to be an injured left knee.
The move did little for the European champions’ quest for an equaliser, but it delighted the crowd of at Michigan Stadium, home of the University of Michigan Wolverines that is fondly known as “The Big House.”
“His condition is improving,” manager Carlo Ancelotti said of his Ballon d’Or winner. “I think that he needs another week to train with the teammates, and then I think he will be ready for the first game of the season.”
Real equalised in the 27th when Bale was fouled in the box by United defender Keane and then got up to convert the penalty by sending David de Gea the wrong way.
However, it took United only 10 minutes to regain the lead when Young curled in what looked like a cross from the left. United’s England forward Rooney timed his run perfectly but did not appear to make contact with his attempted header.
His presence distracted Casillas, though, with the keeper reacting too late to stop the ball curling inside the far post.
United, playing under new manager Van Gaal, padded their lead in the 80th when substitute Javier Hernandez headed home an exquisite pass by Shinji Kagawa from close range.
“I think we were fantastic from the first minute to the end,” Young told Fox Sports.
United are hoping to bounce back from a seventh-place finish in the English Premier League last season – the team did not even qualify for the second-tier Europa League. Van Gaal is taking over after leading the Netherlands to the semifinals of the World Cup.
“It’s a new system, and we’re getting used to it, but we’re happy with what we’ve done so far,” Young said. “Obviously, it is a great feeling to score two goals, but those were both set up by my teammates. The first one was a beautiful team move.”
Madrid, meanwhile, won a record 10th European title earlier this year, but Ronaldo and his teammates should be plenty motivated after crosstown rival Atletico Madrid won the league title in Spain.
Although Ronaldo played a bit Saturday, several of Ancelotti’s other stars didn’t, including Karim Benzema and newly acquired James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos.
“We can’t be ready, obviously, the way we are. We have players that just joined up a week ago,” Ancelotti said through a translator. “Obviously, the team isn’t necessarily accustomed to playing without Cristiano or some other players, but it’s normal that we’re going through this.”
Liverpool were assured of going through to the final of the tournament after English Premier League champions Manchester City fell 5-4 on penalties to Olympiakos after a 2-2 fulltime draw in Minneapolis.
In an all-Italian clash, Inter Milan defeated AS Roma 2-0 in Philadelphia.
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Published: August 3, 2014 04:00 AM