Man United edge past Real Madrid on penalties in UEFA Super Cup tune-up
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Here's what we learned in Manchester United's 2-1 shootout win over Real Madrid after 90 minutes of their International Champions Cup match finished 1-1.
1. Penalties needed to separate Real and United
It was appropriate that it needed a penalty shootout -- and a bad one at that -- to separate Real Madrid and Manchester United after a 1-1 draw in Santa Clara because neither team appeared totally prepared to show their hand and go for the win, little more than two weeks before they meet again in the UEFA Super Cup.
The downside of staging this International Champions Cup fixture so close to the more serious encounter in Skopje, Macedonia, was that both clubs made it clear that their priority would be to win that one.
It may be derided as a meaningless trophy by some, little more than a preseason friendly, but you have to win either the Champions League or Europa League to play for the Super Cup, so the victors will regard it as a pot worth winning on Aug. 8.
This game was a different matter, especially in the punishing afternoon heat in California, with both managers making wholesale changes at half-time. It was about fitness rather than winning and there were times, especially in the first half, when it resembled little more than a practice match.
But it will be a different story in Macedonia, when the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos return for Real, and you can expect a much more full-blooded affair when the two clubs meet again.
2. Martial has one of his good days
Anthony Martial is a frustrating figure for all at Manchester United, with the French forward possessing great talent, yet only showing it in all-too-rare flashes. He is brilliant one minute and hopeless the next; something he underlined with his awful miss in the penalty shootout at the end of the game.
Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his impatience with the former Monaco player, and Martial clearly faces a crucial period of his career in the coming weeks. If United were to receive a suitable offer for the 21-year-old, there is no guarantee that Mourinho would tell the club to reject it, so Martial is most definitely playing for his future at Old Trafford.
Against Real, though, Martial was one of only two United players to complete the full 90 minutes -- Marouane Fellaini being the other -- and he took his chance to impress. Playing down the left, Martial gave Real problems, especially in the first half, and his mazy run shortly before half-time created the chance for Jesse Lingard to score United's goal from close range.
Martial was not quite so effective after the break, with the stifling heat no doubt taking its toll, but this was one his better performances.
The problem now is that he has to do it again, and that has always been Martial's Achilles heel.
3. Navas earns a handshake from Mourinho
When the two teams halted play after 30 minutes for a hydration break in the baking heat in Santa Clara, Mourinho headed straight for Real keeper Keylor Navas as he walked towards the touchline before shaking the Costa Rican's hand.
Navas had earlier produced a flying save to keep out a Lingard long-range shot -- a save that highlighted his technical ability -- but Mourinho might just have been congratulating the Real No. 1 on the news that he would not be dislodged at the Santiago Bernabeu by David De Gea anytime soon.
Mourinho's pre-match insistence that De Gea would not be leaving United drew a line under the annual "Real want De Gea" stories, but Navas' performance in Levi's Stadium showed why Zinedine Zidane is happy to stick with him in goal.
The save from Lingard was one example, but Navas' ability with his feet and his distribution mark him out as a top-class goalkeeper, one who has helped Real win back-to-back Champions League titles. He may not quite be in De Gea's league, but he is certainly good enough to persuade Real not to spend a world-record fee to replace him.
4. United need Shaw fit and firing next season
Luke Shaw has spent the past two weeks working on his fitness in the United States, but the United left-back will not return to action until September following his foot injury.
Although the England defender has endured a difficult time at United since his £28 million move from Southampton in 2014, it was clear during this game that the team needs him at his fully fit best next season.
In the first half, Matteo Darmian struggled to convince in the left-back role, with the naturally right-sided Italian caught out by Dani Carvajal on more than one occasion. Darmian is a right-back and it showed, with the former Torino man finding it almost impossible to get his positional sense in order on the left.
Daley Blind took over at left-back in the second half, with Darmian moving over to the right, and although the Dutchman offered me balance as a left-footed player, his lack of pace has been exposed before in the Premier League and he is not Mourinho's preferred choice.
Shaw has all the attributes: he's left-footed, quick and good going forward, but he needs to work on his concentration to tick all of Mourinho's boxes. When he is fit, though, he should be first choice.
5. Real and United both in good shape with emerging kids
Mourinho and Zidane both took the opportunity to give their younger players a chance in Santa Clara and, from their brief cameos, it was obvious that United and Real have a healthy production line at Old Trafford and the Bernabeu.
Real's 18-year-old right-back Achraf Hakimi was outstanding during the second half against Martial, reading the game well, tackling cleanly and also showing great footwork in tight situations. The Moroccan was given a first-team chance last season and his emergence is why Zidane has been happy to offload Danilo to Manchester City for £26.5m.
Oscar also shone in midfield for Real, but United had their bright stars too, with Marcus Rashford once again showing his rapid development in the first half.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah was impressive at right-back, Andreas Pereira tenacious in midfield and, when he came on for the injured Ander Herrera early in the second half, Scott McTominay displayed energy and power through the middle for United.
McTominay was almost offloaded by United 12 months ago due to his lack of physical presence, but the 20-year-old has grown in stature throughout the past year and he now looks a powerful box-to-box midfielder.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_