Manchester United won the first International Champions Cup game of Tour 2018, presented by Aon, beating AC Milan 9-8 on penalties after the 90 minutes had finished 1-1 in Carson, California.
Jose Mourinho's side impressed in the third run-out of the Stateside trip, looking sharper and more fluid as preparations for the new season continue.
The Reds made a bright start to the game and were ahead inside 12 minutes. Alexis Sanchez, who was superb all evening, had already seen a low effort well saved by Gigi Donnarumma but the young goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent the Chilean from opening the scoring. A superb volleyed pass from Juan Mata put Alexis clean through and he finished with aplomb.
It was the perfect start for Mourinho’s men but the lead lasted just three minutes. A long ball from Leonardo Bonucci found former Liverpool man Suso in space and he fired the ball home past Lee Grant.
Alexis was certainly enjoying himself and he took aim directly from a corner on 23 minutes. Donnarumma was scrambling to back-pedal and was relieved to see the ball drop onto the top of the net.
Andreas Pereira was next to go close after another corner had rebounded into his path. He caught the ball well but it flashed just wide as United continued to put the pressure on.
The Reds looked menacing in attack and a blistering break, started by Scott McTominay and involving Alexis, led to Ander Herrera having a shot saved by Donnarumma, with Milan then managing to block the rebound.
Donnarumma was being kept busy by the United attack and, after he had tipped a Mata free-kick over, the Milan keeper collected safely when McTominay looped a header towards the far post.
Davide Calabria struck an effort straight at Grant before Franck Kessie saw an attempt blocked from 12 yards and that proved to the be the final action of a frenetic first 45.
Mourinho made one change at the break, with Joel Pereira coming on for Grant, and United were at it from the off again as Alexis started and almost finished a sensational move, but his volley dropped just wide.
McTominay then forced Donnarumma into another save before he was replaced on the hour mark by former Liverpool stopper Pepe Reina. He was straight into the action when the ball dropped to Luke Shaw some 20 yards out, but the defender was left frustrated and still looking for his first United goal when Reina made a top save.
Mata was unlucky not to double the advantage on 70 minutes when a sublime long ball from Andreas Pereira found Alexis, who laid the ball off to the Spaniard but Reina went it well.
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Milan almost nicked it with three minutes left when a ball out of nothing found Borini inside the area and his effort smashed against Joel Pereira’s left-hand post as the Reds breathed a sigh of relief.
Ethan Hamilton came on for a late unofficial debut for United but it finished all square at the end, with penalties needed to decide the contest.
The shootout turned into an epic, sudden-death affair, with Joel Pereira and Reina both making several saves. But two successful spot-kicks apiece from Andreas Pereira and Herrera, allied to penalties from Alexis, Chris Smalling, Axel Tuanzebe, Tim Fosu-Mensah and Matteo Darmian, saw the Reds prevail.
Milan v United Gallery
Flick through the best pics from the International Champions Cup match in California.
Milan: Donnarumma (Reina 61); Abate (Antonelli 61), Musacchio, Bonucci (Romagnoli 46), Calabria; Kessié, Locatelli (Mauri 60), Bertolacci (Borini 46); Suso, Cutrone (Kalinic 75), Calhanoglu.
Scorer: Suso 15.
Penalty scorers: Calhanoglu (2), Kessié, Reina, Calabria, Kalinic, Musacchio, Antonelli.
United: Grant (J. Pereira 46); Bailly, Smalling, Tuanzebe; Darmian, Herrera, A. Pereira, McTominay, Shaw (Fosu-Mensah 74); Mata (Hamilton 89), Alexis.
Scorer: Alexis 12.
Penalty scorers: A. Pereira (2), Herrera (2), Alexis, Smalling, Tuanzebe, Fosu-Menshah, Darmian.