Manchester United beats Fire 3-1 in friendly at Soldier Field
Manchester United scored twice within six minutes to beat the Fire 3-1 in a friendly at Soldier Field.
Defender Rafael gave the Red Devils their first lead of Saturday’s clash as he lined a tight shot down the goal line past backup goalie Jon Conway in the 76th minute.
Six minutes later, second half substitute Nani made it 3-1 when Conway was caught off guard after Nani picked up a loose ball and beat the Fire keeper.
Manchester United star Wayne Rooney scored in the 66th minute to force a 1-1 tie. Rooney, a second half substitute, skipped in a shot over Fire goalie Jon Conway. He had rushed out of the goal to try to block the shot only to see miss Rooney’s high, arcing effort sail over the goalkeeper’s hands.
Saturday’s crowd was announced at 61,308, a sellout and largest to ever watch the Fire play at any Chicago venue.
The Fire held a surprise 1-0 lead at halftime. Defender Cory Gibbs scored on header in the 13th minute after a Marco Pappa perfectly lined a free kick right in front of new United goalkeeper David De Gea.
The Red Devils had several opportunities, including an early try by striker Dimitar Berbatov in a one-on-one that Fire goalie Sean Johnson knocked away.
Both teams were expected to make several lineup changes at halftime as both teams coped with 88 degree temperatures and high humidity.
The Fire were playing at Soldier Field for the first time since 2005 and the game drew a sellout crowd estimated in excess of 61,500.
The Fire was set to field its regular starting lineup and newest acquisition — midfielder Sebastian Grazzini — was expected to get some minutes along with other reserves.
The Red Devils, making the third stop in their preseason tour, offered a mixed lineup that included 2010-11 scoring leader Berbatov, defender Patrice Evra and new goalkeeper Gea.
De Gea, who left Atletico Madrid to join the English powerhouse in the offseason, did not play in the first two legs of United’s U.S. tour. He is expected to be the long-term replacement for Edwin Van der Sar, who retired at the end of last season, but hasn’t been handed the starting job yet.
Rooney, who had a hat trick vs. Seattle on Wednesday, was not among United’s starting 11 and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez had not yet joined the tour.
Manchester United next travels to New Jersey for a midweek battle with Major League Soccer’s all stars at Red Bull Arena. The Fire are idle until Aug. 3 when they resume MLS play at home on Aug. 3 against Philadelphia.
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