Man-of-the-match Jude Bellingham’s first goal in a Real Madrid shirt and a spectacular Joselu scissor kick saw Manchester United fall to a 2-0 defeat in Houston.
Just 24 hours on from the Red Devils youngsters’ loss to Wrexham in San Diego, Texas played host to Erik ten Hag’s first team against the Spanish giants.
Bellingham marked his second Madrid appearance with a lovely finish against long-term admirers United, who saw Joselu acrobatically sweep home a late second.
Man Utd’s starting line up
Defenders: Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Martinez, Shaw.
Midfielders: Casemiro, Mainoo, Mount.
Forwards: Fernandes, Rashford, Garnacho.
Substitutes: Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, s, Eriksen, McTominay, Van de Beek, Sancho, Pellistri, Antony.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side took control of the friendly in the sixth minute when Bellingham was put through by Antonio Rudiger to score his first goal since his recent £115m switch.
There were questions over whether the England international stayed offside, but there was no getting away from the quality of the touch and 18-yard clipped finish.
Madrid edged the play under the NRG Stadium roof, where goalkeeper Andre Onana looked assured on his bow but would be beaten again by former Stoke and Newcastle striker Joselu’s brilliant finish.
How Man Utd were beaten in Houston
United complete their US tour against Borussia Dortmund in Las Vegas on Sunday, with Kobbie Mainoo looking unlikely to feature.
The 18-year-old got the nod to start on Wednesday but an early collision saw him limp off, with the midfielder making his way down the touchline as Madrid struck the opener.
Rudiger collected the ball and spotted Bellingham’s run through the middle, meeting his pass with a smart touch before lifting it over Onana. He avoided a flag for offside despite it looking like a tight call.
Alejandro Garnacho cut in and fired over as United looked for a quick leveller and Mason Mount could not get a clean strike away when he had an attempt.
Madrid looked the most dangerous side, wasting an opportunity from a cutback before Vinicius Jr forced Onana into a save from a tight angle.
Marcus Rashford saw a clipped attempt across the face of goal come to nothing and tempers frayed as half-time approached.
Lisandro Martinez’s challenge on Bukayo Saka in New Jersey on Saturday angered Arsenal, just as the defender’s foul on Bellingham did just before the break.
The England midfielder got up and pushed the Argentina international, with players from both sides involved before a booking was dished out.
Bellingham was withdrawn as part of five Madrid half-time alterations, with Fernandes seeing a low ball cut out and Garnacho forced Andriy Lunin to push over a snapshot.
Ten Hag made a tranche of alterations midway through the second half and substitute Scott McTominay followed a marauding run from the halfway line with a shot at Lunin.
Those changes swayed the momentum Madrid’s way, with Onana shifting his feet well to deny Joselu before the summer signing went close again.
Diogo Dalot cleared off the line before Antony ripped a left-footed shot over and Bruno Fernandes tried his luck at the end.
There would be one final goal but it came at the wrong end from a United perspective. Lucas Vazquez crossed from the right and Joselu brilliantly struck past statuesque Onana in the 89th minute.
Ten Hag: Defeat shows why Man Utd need a striker
Erik ten Hag said Manchester United’s inability to take their chances against Real Madrid “absolutely” emphasised their need for a new striker.
United had chances of their own but failed to score with any of their 14 attempts – an all too familiar tale given their problems taking opportunities last season.
Asked if the attacking display in Texas emphasised why they are looking to sign a new striker, Ten Hag said: “Absolutely.
“There were two things – the pressing can be better from the start, and scoring goals.
“I think we need more players who are capable to be in the one-on-ones and we had the situations of one-on-ones.
“It was (Marcus) Rashford, it was, I thought, Scott McTominay in one-on-one situations. Garnacho, a one-on-one situation. From the situations, you have to score.”
United are pushing to sign Atalanta striker Rasmus Hojlund, with talks over a deal underway and other potential attacking irons in the fire as they look to bring in a frontman.
The Old Trafford side have already brought in Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount and Inter Milan goalkeeper Andre Onana this summer, with the latter making his bow in Houston.
“I think good, solid,” Ten Hag said of Onana’s display. “Two very good saves.
“He was there in the moment the team needed him, so he did his job. I think he integrated well into our team.
“This is the first game and detail, we have a lot of work to do between him and the defending part (of the team).
“You could see with the second goal where we are not close at the back post. It can’t be that and goals will come there.
“There are things that are rules we have to follow, and they’ll come quick, that we integrate that into our way of play.”
The main negative on the night was the early injury to Kobbie Mainoo.
The 18-year-old impressed from the start against Arsenal on Saturday and was entrusted from kick-off in Houston, only to end the night on crutches with his left foot in a protective boot.
“You never can tell straight after a game, so we have to wait for what it is,” Ten Hag said. “Hopefully he’s not too bad, then chances will come.
“I wanted to see on which levels he could play.
“Against Arsenal, we were pleased with his performance, so I wanted to see if he can repeat that some days after.
“From thereon, we set conclusions and now I just have to wait for the diagnosis. Then from thereon, we will set conclusions.”
‘I’m enjoying it’ – Bellingham on start to life in Madrid
Jude Bellingham has loved his first few weeks as a Real Madrid player and is confident of helping the Spanish giants fulfil their lofty expectations.
The England star was taken off at half-time in Houston but was deemed to have done enough to earn the man-of-the-match award after scoring to set his new side on the way to a 2-0 win.
“I look like I am enjoying it, I like to think,” Bellingham said after the game. “So far, so good.
“I am enjoying playing with this team, learning from so many great players. I am definitely not getting carried away just yet.
“There are big challenges to come this season.
“There is a lot to aim for and rightly so. It is the biggest club with the best players. The expectations are high as they should be. It is about us going out there and matching that.”
Bellingham says he is slowly getting better at Spanish but admits he is finding the language tough – certainly harder than adapting to his new surroundings.
The England international loves Real’s standards and “the way everyone applies themselves in training, the mentality day in, day out” – an elite level he is confident of matching.
“I was confident coming here because I knew how good the players were,” Bellingham said. “I know the qualities I can bring and I feel like I have slotted in.
“The role I am playing is enjoyable. I had a decent game against AC Milan and a decent one today. I just want to keep up the rhythm going into the season.”
Man Utd’s pre-season fixtures and results
- July 12: Man Utd 2-0 Leeds
- July 19: Man Utd 1-0 Lyon
- July 22: Man Utd 2-0 Arsenal
- July 26: Man Utd 1-3 Wrexham
- July 27: Real Madrid 2-0 Man Utd
- July 31: Man Utd vs Dortmund, kick-off 2am (Allegiant Stadium, USA)
- August 5: Man Utd vs Lens, kick-off 12.45pm (Old Trafford)
- August 6: Man Utd vs Athletic Bilbao, kick-off 4pm (Aviva Stadium)
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