After the best part of a season under David Moyes, watching Manchester United play anywhere near competently still feels alien. With the caveat that this was a friendly, United went beyond mere competence in the first half, and played with verve not seen in a United team for some time.
United went ahead after Darren Fletcher played a backheeled one-two with Wayne Rooney, passed inside for Danny Welbeck, who spread the ball left for Ashley Young, in space, who drilled in at the near post.
Michael Keane dragged Gareth Bale to the ground in the box, who converted the penalty easily. United regained the lead when Young, playing with a desperation that suggests he realises he could be on borrowed time under Louis van Gaal, sent in a cross for Rooney that sneaked into the goal.
In the second half, Bale almost equalised with a free-kick that hit the post. Despite a succession of United substitutions, they remained in control.
Cristiano Ronaldo was introduced in the 74th minute, but Real struggled to create any further chances. With 10 minutes to go, Javier Hernandez smartly headed past Iker Casillas to cap a comfortable win for a newly confident United side.
14' - FLETCHER SHOT: Fletcher collects a loose ball from a corner and drags a shot just wide from the edge of the box.
21' - YOUNG GOAL: Darren Fletcher plays inside for Wayne Rooney, who backheels into the midfielder's path. He passes forward for Danny Welbeck, who shifts the ball left for Ashley Young, in space, and the wing-back fires low into the near corner.
26' - BALE PENALTY: Gareth Bale's burst of pace past Michael Keane and into the box leads the young defender to panic and drag him down in the box.
27' - BALE GOAL: A stuttering run-up sees David De Gea dive right, and Bale dinks the ball to the keeper's left.
35' - OVERHEAD KICK: Gareth Bale meets a cross from the left with an acrobatic overhead kick, but it's not far enough away from De Gea.
37' - YOUNG GOAL: Ashley Young cuts onto his right foot and curls in a cross for Wayne Rooney. Rooney fails to connect but the ball sneaks in at the bottom corner.
55' - BALE HITS THE POST: 30 yards out, Bale curls a free kick over the United wall and against the outside of the post.
80' - HERNANDEZ GOAL: A chipped ball to the back post from Shinji Kagawa finds Hernandez's run, and he deftly glances a header past the 'keeper.
Was the disaster of David Moyes necessary? United hit such lows in his time at Manchester United that it meant that there were no longer any hiding places for the players - they had been coasting for several years, rather than just the one under Moyes. They appear to have recognised that laziness will no longer be tolerated, but Edward Woodward's lack of recent transfer activity suggests that United still have one area of underperformance. Van Gaal is unlikely to tolerate it meekly.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ashley Young (Manchester United): Defensively he was still suspect, but his attacking play was more incisive than it has looked for several seasons. As above, you get the impression that he realises that he is on borrowed time with Van Gaal, and he understands that his past level of performance will not be good enough now. Two goals go some way to helping him remain in Manchester.
Real Madrid: Casillas 5, Arbeloa 6, Pepe 6, Ramos 6, Nacho 6, Carvajal 6, Illarramendi 5, Alonso 5, Modric 6, Isco 6, Bale 6. Subs: De Tomas 6, Ronaldo 6.
Man Utd: De Gea 6, M Keane 5, Evans 6, Jones 6, Valencia 5, Young 7, Herrera 6, Fletcher 7, Mata 6, Welbeck 6, Rooney 6. Subs: Zaha 5, Shaw 6, Blackett 6, Cleverley 6, Lingard 6, Kagawa 6, Hernandez 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- Gareth Bale
- Wayne Rooney
- Ashley Young
- David Moyes
- Real Madrid
- Darren Fletcher
- Danny Welbeck
- Javier Hernandez
- Michael Keane