Mauro Icardi scored the decisive penalty as Inter beat European Champions Real Madrid 3-2 on penalties in San Francisco in their first game of the Guinness International Champions Cup.
Forget the earlier warm-up games in Europe, this was the beginning of the real preseason for Walter Mazzarri’s side. This was a chance for the Nerazzurri to see where they stood against one of the elite teams in world football.
The world’s most expensive player Gareth Bale showed his class almost immediately as he hit the bar with a header after three minutes. The Welsh winger was just warming up though as he followed that up with a stunning strike from distance that gave Samir Handanovic no chance.
After conceding a goal last season, Inter rarely seemed to recover and go on and win the game, but this version of the Nerazzurri seems to be made of sterner stuff than that team. Inter pulled themselves back into the game in the 68th minute when Nemanja Vidic was fouled in the box, and Mauro Icardo stepped up and scored from the penalty spot.
With a bit of luck could have the match in regulation but Real substitute goalkeeper Jesus Fernandez produced a terrific double save to deny Vidic and Marco Andreolli late and force a shootout.
In the shootout that mental toughness by Inter was once again on display because after quickly taking a 1-0 lead, the Beneamata fell behind 2-1 and looked like they were heading to a shootout defeat. But they kept their nerve and Juan Pablo Carrizo made a couple of big saves as Inter battled back to win 3-2 with Icardi scoring the decisive spot kick.
Inter’s two marque summer signings have been Vidic and M’Vila and while both played well on Saturday, I thought that Vidic was outstanding.
The Serbian defender was everything that Inter hoped he would be. He was physically imposing, solid in defence and showed that he still has the pace to be a top center half in Serie A. Not only did he win the penalty that Icardi scored from, but he showed great leadership in stepping up to take the first penalty in the shootout.
Next up for Inter is a match on Tuesday against Manchester United in Landover, Maryland. United have been impressive in their two preseason games under new boss Louis Van Gaal, but Inter will not be overawed, especially after beating the European champions. A win will put Walter Mazzarri’s side in pole position to win their group and reach the ICC final in Miami on August 4.
What did you think of Inter’s performance?