In just three years since American billionaire Stephen M. Ross conceived the idea of International Champions Cup (ICC) Football, the tournament has grown in popularity with the global soccer community and football clubs in Europe and North America. The organization of the ICC events is interesting because beginning with the 2013 inaugural year, there have been three editions; Australia China and the United States. This year’s ICC Australian phase is already concluded with Real Madrid beating Manchester City 4-1 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday July 24, 2015. Italian Cub AS Roma also participated in the Australian edition. Real Madrid also feature in the China edition and they have already reached the final. For the title, they will take on AC Milan in the final at Shanghai on Thursday, July 30, 2015. The only other team in the China addition was Inter Milan, who couldn’t make the grade. The North American edition is currently underway but with PSG beating Manchester United on July 29 at Chicago and topping the points table, they have won the title already. In another match at Landover, Maryland, Chelsea beat FC Barcelona on penalties but that result was only academic since none of the two sides could count in the final run.
At the MCG on July 24, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Pepe and substitute Denis Cheryshev scored for Real Madrid in their final match against Manchester City. Playing in front of 99,382 spectators, Real’s victory gave them the title of Australian Phase of International Champions Cup. Benzema scored first, midway through the first half, when he received a ball from Gareth Bale and shot into the net. Four minutes later, Real’s lead was doubled with Ronaldo also finding the net after he received a pass from Toni Kroos. It was 3-0 for Real in the 44th minute, when Pepe headed in a lovely corner kick from Isco. City reduced the deficit to 3-1 from a penalty award in the first-half injury time. After Ronaldo went off after 64 minutes, substitute Cheryshev added the fourth goal, tapping in a cross from Isco to finish the 4-1 victory for Real Madrid.
Paris Saint-Germain emerged as the 2015 champions of the North American edition of the International Champions Cup. Before the start of their match against Manchester United at Chicago, it was well-known that the winner will be ICC-North-America champion. With PSG scoring a 2-0 victory over United, the French Club not only maintained their unbeaten record but have also become this year’s champions. In the one year since he came to Old Trafford, Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal has had a tumultuous time. With the recent bolstering of his side by some high profile transfers, Gaal could have gotten into a celebratory mood if Man-U had beaten PSG. That didn’t happen and Man-U’s pre-season US tour ended on a losing note.
In yesterday’s match at Chicago’s iconic Soldier Field stadium, Manchester United began promisingly and launched all the initial attacks. They were able to get past PSG defenders and even scored a goal in the 22nd minute. But Juan Mata was ruled off-side, even as he nicely connected to an exquisite through ball from Daley Blind. Three minutes later, PSG went into the lead, when a long ball from Maxwell created havoc in Man-U’s defense. Blaise Matuidi was running beyond the halfway line and Maxwell calculated his overhead kick perfectly. Matuidi got ahead of the defense and found the net easily, leaving no chance for Man-U goalkeeper De Gea. Nine minutes later, PSG doubled their lead. Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up the ball in midfield and sent it to the advancing Maxwell down the left flank. The Brazilian fullback moved and knew Ibra was running alongside. He sent a lovely return pass to the mercurial Swede, who had no difficulty in slotting the ball past De Gea. The rest of the match was goalless and the victory gave PSG the championship of the North American Phase of the ICC.
In another intriguing encounter on Tuesday, Chelsea defeated FC Barcelona 4-2 on penalties after regulation time 2-2 draw. Chelsea’s Eden Hazard put his side in front from a fine solo effort but goals from Luis Suarez and Sandro turned the match on its head. But an 86th minute error by substitute goalkeeper Jordi Masip resulted in Chelsea equalizing. The match slipped into the penalty shoot-out, in which FC Barcelona missed two penalties and Chelsea walked away with a 4-2 victory.
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