International Champions Cup talking points: Alexis Sanchez stars for Manchester United
Last Updated: 26/07/18 3:21pm
It was a busy night as Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham were all in pre-season action. We note the key talking points.
Substitutes Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah starred as Liverpool came from behind to beat Man City 2-1 in New Jersey, goals from Lucas Moura and Fernando Llorente gave Spurs a 4-1 win over Roma in San Diego, while Manchester United and AC Milan needed 26 penalties to separate them in a shoot-out after a 1-1 draw.
Here are main talking points from each match in the International Champions Cup...
A lack of depth without Mane and Salah?
Salah and Mane were unleashed in the second half by Jurgen Klopp in their 2-1 win. And, despite Liverpool's starting eleven looking stronger on paper than City's youthful team, the Reds really only got their electric attacking game going when Salah and Mane were introduced.
The first-half showing may have slightly worried Klopp. It seemed the perfect opportunity for Daniel Sturridge to send a message to his manager. With 12 months left on his contract it seemed Sturridge's Anfield career was over but Klopp has backed him in pre-season, where he has looked reportedly sharp in games prior to this.
Here, he struggled to make an impact as he was marshalled by the inexperienced City back three of Cameron Humphreys-Grant, Jason Denayer and Eric Garcia.
When Sturridge departed, Liverpool improved in the final third. But it was more to do with the introduction of their star men from the bench; Mane at the break and Salah on 62 minutes.
Salah, on his first Liverpool appearance since hobbling off in the Champions League final, took just 52 seconds to find the net.
It was the definition of making an impact.
It was like his presence pushed the City defence deeper and a quick move involving Rafael Camacho worked the space for Salah to head past Joe Hart. He could have had himself a five-minute hat-trick but he fluffed a back-post header and grazed the crossbar with a long-range effort.
His link-up with Mane was especially eye-catching - the time apart at the World Cup hasn't affected their chemistry. Four minutes before he won the game from the penalty spot, Mane squandered a glorious chance when picked out by a sensational ball from Salah down the right.
Premier League defences beware.
How significant could Sanchez be?
There are few excuses for Alexis Sanchez this season - he needs to deliver.
However, the signs are looking positive.
The Chilean was their only real spark in the drab draw with San Jose Earthquakes on Monday and he was undoubtedly United's star performer in their 1-1 draw with AC Milan, firing them into the lead inside 12 minutes.
Juan Mata provided Sanchez with the ammunition, slicing the Milan defence open with a fine pass which Sanchez finished - in classy fashion - past Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Sanchez played through the middle up top - in the absence of Anthony Martial, who flew home to Paris to be at the birth of his son - and relished the extra responsibility.
He looked sharp following a summer of rest, providing a platform for his midfielders to play and occupying Leonardo Bonucci for large parts of the first-half. The former Arsenal man's arrival midway through last season rarely sparked United into life, but Jose Mourinho will be quietly confident we could be about to see the real Sanchez in a United shirt.
Spurs clinical without Kane?
Tottenham miss Harry Kane. That's the usual theory, backed up by a lack of goals conjured up in his absence by his centre-forward replacement.
Well, Llorente - a bit of a forgotten man at White Hart Lane - sent a message to his critics with an outstanding performance leading Tottenham's line in their 4-1 win over Roma.
Spurs, missing nine of their key men due to their World Cup exploits, were ruthless in the final third as shown by Llorente's two goals in the opening 18 minutes. The Spaniard, who only scored once in the Premier League last season, was sharp in the box throughout and headed home after a ricochet on nine minutes before being in the right place again to tap home a rebound following a Lucas Moura effort.
They were goals which World Cup Golden Boot winner Kane would have been proud of.
Kane will have also been nodding his head in appreciation of Moura's individual performance.
He only made five starts in all competitions after joining from Paris Saint-Germain in January for £25m but he might be knocking on the door for a starting spot more regularly this season. The Brazilian grabbed himself two goals and showcased what he's all about: pace and creativity.
An area where Tottenham have lacked at certain times under Mauricio Pochettino.
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