Manchester United ended their preseason tour of the United States with a 2-1 victory over Champions League holders Real Madrid.
After 15 days of almost constant negativity, Jose Mourinho’s team used their final evening in America to show there are reasons for optimism.
Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera scored well-worked goals in the first half before Karim Benzema pulled one back for Real Madrid just before the break in their first game of the post-Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane era.
Mourinho was given a welcome boost before a ball had been kicked with the United boss able to pick Eric Bailly, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera from the start after injury scares this week.
Chris Smalling, injured in the warm-up before the defeat to Liverpool, was the only player to miss out.
United, playing their fifth summer fixture compared to Real’s first, were first out of the blocks.
After 18 minutes, Herrera slipped a ball into Matteo Darmian, who crossed for Sanchez to pass his finish into the net.
At the end of a trip that has sometimes appeared to be on the brink of disaster, it was moment to inspire a bit of belief that this season might actually go to plan.
The second goal was just as good.
Darmian, involved again, set Juan Mata free down the right. The Spaniard checked back, clipped a lovely pass towards Sanchez at the back post and the Chilean demonstrated outstanding vision to head the ball back for Herrera to score.
Only Benzema’s goal in first-half stoppage time, after the Frenchman had got between Bailly and makeshift centre-back Scott McTominay, could take the gloss off a positive 45 minutes for Mourinho’s men.
Despite replacing Gareth Bale at half-time and Benzema shortly afterwards, Julen Lopetegui’s side were the better team after the break, although David De Gea was never forced into anything other than routine action. Raul De Tomas was guilty of missing a late chance to equalise when he should have hit the target.
After their first win inside 90 minutes this summer, United will land back in Manchester on Wednesday before facing Bayern in Munich on Sunday.
Then comes the serious matter of Leicester at Old Trafford on Aug. 10 and a real chance to show that everything is going to be OK after all.