It was a busy night as Manchester United, Tottenham, Real Madrid and AC Milan were all in pre-season action. We note the key talking points…

Sanchez holds the key to success

After an inconsistent start to life at Old Trafford, Alexis Sanchez’s performance against Real Madrid in Miami served as further evidence that he is primed for his first full season at Manchester United.

Man Utd 2-1 Real Madrid – Tottenham 1-0 AC Milan

The Chilean had a hand in both goals against the European champions, clinically dispatching Matteo Darmian’s cross for the opener – his second goal of the US tour – before expertly laying on the second for Ander Herrera.

His work rate and endeavour in the second half, when his team-mates began to tire, was just as impressive. As Madrid gathered momentum, up popped Sanchez with a purposeful run to relieve the pressure on his defence.

There have been a number of standout performers on the American leg of United’s pre-season tour; Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira to name a few. But Sanchez’s enthusiasm throughout the gruelling two-and-a-half-week schedule sees him head and shoulders above the rest.

With the new Premier League season just nine days away, and with key attackers yet to return to the club after their exploits at this summer’s World Cup, Sanchez could well hold the key to success in the early stages of the season.

Faultless Fred fits in

Manchester United fans have had to wait a long time to catch a glimpse of summer signing Fred.

He didn’t play a single minute for Brazil at the World Cup, while not even the most diehard of supporters were still watching as he made his debut at the end of the 4-1 drubbing to Liverpool in Michigan.

If United fans were not rejoicing at the news that Fred would make his first start for the club against Madrid, then his performance would have had them purring.

Brazilians have notoriously struggled at United but Fred appears to have seamlessly settled into life at his new club. He was neat and tidy in possession, tenacious in defence and composed under pressure.

Having been overshadowed by Sanchez, Mata and Herrera in attack, though it remains to be seen whether the former Shakhtar Donetsk man is the answer to United’s need for a goalscoring midfielder. But as first impressions go, Fred’s 67-minute cameo was faultless.

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August 10, 2018, 7:00pm

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Subs or signings?

Throughout United’s pre-season tour, Jose Mourinho has needed no invitation to air his frustrations at the club’s inactivity in the transfer market.

Some have accused the Portuguese of getting his excuses in early ahead of another underwhelming campaign, but by the time the final whistle had sounded in Miami, you couldn’t help but feel he had a point.

After an assured first-half display, United were visibly gripped by fatigue against a youthful and untried Madrid outfit, who were playing their first pre-season game.

Julen Lopetegui was confident enough to turn to his bench at the interval, 10 times to be exact, and while his additions were not as familiar as the likes of Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema, they certainly asked more questions of United.

It begged the question that if Lopetegui could so readily turn to the players on the fringe of his squad in his very first game, why is there a reluctance from Mourinho to do the same two years into his United tenure?

Yes, they won the game and are missing a host of players, but a club of United’s stature have the resources – be it in the transfer market or through their academy – to ensure their manager has the tools he needs.

Walker-Peters impresses

Kyle Walker-Peters was one of four Tottenham players to keep their place from Sunday’s game against Barcelona, but was positioned at right-back during a 1-0 win against AC Milan after struggling on the left against the La Liga champions.

The switch seemed to do the trick as the 21-year-old defender looked sharp and composed against a much more experienced AC Milan side, and was impressive when going forward in the wing-back role.

1:19 Highlights of Tottenham's 1-0 win over AC Milan in Minneapolis in the International Champions Cup

He capitalised on a good Tottenham start, playing quality crosses into the area on three occasions inside the opening 20 minutes and stuck to his defensive duties. Although the attacking chances became more sporadic after that, there were a few other occasions where he threatened the AC Milan defence.

In a team packed full of young talent, Walker-Peters shined – taking home the ICC man of the match award – and will be hoping to add to his three Premier League appearances this season.

Super Suso shines for Milan

On four occasions in the opening period, the former Liverpool winger produced moments of magic for his side and was the main reason why they were so attacking. He was substituted at the break and AC Milan lacked a creative spark that only saw a brief glimmer in the dying stages with two set-ups from Antonelli.

He played in all but three of AC Milan’s games in Serie A last season, and based on his performance at the US Bank Stadium, he will be just a vital for them again in the upcoming campaign.

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August 11, 2018, 11:30am

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