[Updated: 3:45 p.m.]
By Joey Sabet
Manchester United and Inter Milan labored through 90 minutes of scoreless soccer on Tuesday night at FedEx Field before deciding the match in penalties, 5-3 in United’s favor. It was the 2nd match for each squad in the International Champions Cup, a preseason tour preparing European clubs for league play.
For United it marks three matches and three wins in the states, though lacking the flair prevalent in their 1st two matches.
“I’m very pleased. I think we played by far the best match in the sequence of our three matches,” said United coach Louis van Gaal. “I was very pleased by our ball possession, it was much better than our other matches, and the positions were better covered.”
Although Inter struggled to create chances of their own, they held strong defensively, keeping a clean sheet against a United team that had tallied 10 goals in their previous two matches: a 7-0 demolition of the LA Galaxy, and a 3-2 win over AS Roma, another Serie A squad.
“We need these difficult matches to prepare ourselves for the season,” said Inter midfielder Rene Krhin. “It’s the 2nd year of players together, so the team knows what it should do, what it should do on the pitch… all these are advantages for next season.”
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the match came prior to the start, when former Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic, now playing for Inter, was given a warm reception by the partisan United crowd.
“What’s past is past,” Vidic said. “I just can speak about what is now. I have to look in the future same as Man United…
“I hope both teams are on a good path and a good way and I hope they both do well.”
Vidic did admit it was a bit strange taking the pitch against the Red Devils after spending nine seasons in Manchester, but it all changed once the game began.
“We are serious when we play the match we are serious and professional,” he said, “but when we finish the match we have a laugh.”
The closest either team came to scoring in the run of play was in the 11th minute when United’s Phil Jones’ headed effort off a corner kick came tantalizingly close, but Samir Handanovic was equal to the task, diving to his left to keep the match scoreless.
After the scoreless fulltime, United converted all five of its penalty kicks. Inter’s Marco Andreolli rocketed his penalty off the crossbar, and Man U captain Darren Fletcher converted his penalty to give the Red Devils the win.
Inter Milan begins its campaign in the Serie A Aug. 30 at Torino, while Manchester United debuts in the Premier League Aug. 16 against Swansea City.