Real Madrid 2-2 Arsenal (3-2 on pens): Bale helps his side battle back from two goals down

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Arsenal and Real Madrid played out a topsy-turvy pre-season clash in Maryland, with four goals, two red cards and a superb 45 minutes from man of the moment Gareth Bale.

The Gunners raced ahead, courtesy of goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it was the very definition of a game of two halves, as Real battled back courtesy of Bale and Marco Asensio in the second.

It was not your average pre-season friendly, with two red cards, a potentially serious injury to Asensio and plenty of talking points throughout the exciting clash – before a penalty shootout to top it all off.

Alexandre Lacazette fired Arsenal ahead from the penalty spot inside 10 minutes in Maryland

Alexandre Lacazette fired Arsenal ahead from the penalty spot inside 10 minutes in Maryland

Aubameyang rounded Keylor Navas before firing home Arsenal's second goal against Real

Aubameyang rounded Keylor Navas before firing home Arsenal’s second goal against Real

Gareth Bale came on at half-time and made an immediate impact, scoring Real's first goal

Gareth Bale came on at half-time and made an immediate impact, scoring Real’s first goal

Marco Asensio (right) then levelled things up, but his night ended on a sour night with an injury

Marco Asensio (right) then levelled things up, but his night ended on a sour night with an injury

MATCH FACTS

Real Madrid: Navas (Courtois 46), Nacho, Kroos (Fidalgo 65), Mendy (Marcelo 46), Carvajal (Odriozola 46), Benzema (Asensio 46; Vinicius Jnr 65), Modric (Seoane 65), Vazquez, Ramos (De La Fuente 65), Hazard (Bale 46), Jovic (Varane 18) 

Goals: Bale 56, Asensio 59 

Booked: Carvajal

Sent off: Nacho 

Arsenal: Martinez, Jenkinson, Chambers, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Willock (Monreal 46), Xhaka, Mkhitaryan (Nelson 75), Ozil (Saka 74), Aubameyang (Burton 75), Lacazette (Nketiah 74)

Goals: Lacazette 10, Aubameyang 24

Booked: Sokratis

Sent off: Sokratis 

The Spaniards ran out 3-2 winners on spot-kicks, despite Bale missing the opener, with Granit Xhaka, Nacho Monreal and youngster Robbie Burton all missing for Arsenal. 

Real Madrid started the brighter of the two teams, with Karim Benzema stinging the palms of Emiliano Martinez inside two minutes, but from there Arsenal took the initiative.

Zinedine Zidane’s side looked shaky at the back from the off, and were this not a pre-season friendly, Nacho would have been lucky to keep his place on the pitch after scything down Sead Kolasinac just outside his own area. 

Incredibly, the Spaniard then was sent off with nine minutes on the clock after appearing to deliberately handball on the goal-line in order to stop a certain Lacazette goal. The Frenchman then stepped up himself to tuck home the penalty, with a little help from both posts on the way in. 

It has been a successful, albeit packed, pre-season schedule for Arsenal so far, and Lacazette’s goal sent them on their way to what should have been four wins from four stateside. 

It began with a friendly victory over Colorado, before their ICC games saw them beat Bayern Munich and Fiorentina going into this Maryland clash with Real Madrid. 

Lacazette (centre) is congratulated by his team-mates, including captain Mesut Ozil (left)

Lacazette (centre) is congratulated by his team-mates, including captain Mesut Ozil (left)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Lacazette linked up well again at FedExField in the USA

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (left) and Lacazette linked up well again at FedExField in the USA

ARSENAL’S PENS

Reiss Nelson – SCORED

Granit Xhaka – MISSED 

Bukayo Saka – SCORED 

Nacho Monreal – MISSED

Robbie Burton – MISSED 

REAL MADRID’S PENS

Gareth Bale – MISSED

Isco – SCORED

Raphael Varane – SCORED 

Vinicius Jr – SCORED 

—– 

Luka Jovic will likely have been excited to start his first Los Blancos game after making a second-half debut on Sunday, but his night was cut short by Zidane when he was hooked in place of a centre back in Rafael Varane on 19 minutes.

The change did little for the Spaniards, though, and Arsenal had doubled their lead within five minutes. The link-up play between Lacazette and Aubameyang is a huge part of the Gunners’ offensive play, and it was at work in front of their adoring American fans on Tuesday.

Lacazette teed up his team-mate to go through one-on-one, before Aubameyang expertly steered the ball around Navas before firing at goal. A desperate Sergio Ramos managed to get a toe to the ball on the line, but he could only direct it into the roof of the net. 

As half-time approached, Lacazette squandered a chance to add a third for the Gunners when he was teed up by Ozil inside the 18-yard box. The Frenchman swivelled to shoot, but could not set himself and blazed over the crossbar.

Ozil captained the Gunners against his former team despite Granit Xhaka being in the team

Ozil captained the Gunners against his former team despite Granit Xhaka being in the team

Bale (second right) watched on from the bench before coming on at half-time in Maryland

Bale (second right) watched on from the bench before coming on at half-time in Maryland

ARSENAL’S PRE-SEASON RESULTS

July 6 – drew 3-3 vs Boreham Wood

July 16 – won 3-0 vs Colorado Rapids

July 18 – won 2-1 vs Bayern Munich

July 20 – won 3-0 vs Fiorentina

July 23 – drew 2-2 vs Real Madrid 

Just before the break, a bizarre game took a further twist as the referee levelled things up and sent off Sokratis Papastathopoulos for two bookable offences in the space of two minutes. 

Immediately, Real seized the advantage and Benzema struck the outside of the right-hand post with a free header on the stroke of half-time that he should surely have buried. 

Zidane rang the changes at the interval, bringing on five players including Bale, who appears to be edging ever closer to the exit door at the Bernabeu, despite his desire to stay.

Be it an audition for other clubs or a bid to impress his manager, the Welshman started at a blistering pace having replaced Hazard through the middle.

It was fellow substitute Marco Asensio who first made an impact when his rasping drive clattered the post from 25 yards out, but Bale was the name on everyone’s lips seconds later.

After Isco and Asensio’s link-up play, the Welshman was ready and waiting to pounce in the 18-yard box, tapping home his side’s first before running away to muted celebrations. More than a few eyes will have been drawn to his manager on the sidelines. A euro for your thoughts, Zinedine?

Sokratis Papastathopoulos endured a night to forget after being sent off before half-time

Sokratis Papastathopoulos endured a night to forget after being sent off before half-time

Sergio Ramos was among the big names in Real Madrid's starting line-up against Arsenal

Sergio Ramos was among the big names in Real Madrid’s starting line-up against Arsenal

With Madrid in the ascendancy, Arsenal could barely get a touch and it all fell apart for the Londoners just minutes later when Asensio did manage to get his goal, firing into the roof of the net after some impressive work from Marcelo.

From 2-0 and cruising to 2-2 and scrapping, Arsenal were in trouble.

There was bad news for Asensio shortly after, though, as his topsy-turvy night went from 100 to 0 all inside 20 minutes. The influential Real Madrid star had only come on at half-time, but after setting up Bale and netting the equaliser, he appeared to pick up a serious knee injury and was left pounding the turf before being taken off on a stretcher.  

His condition may yet influence the futures of both Bale and James Rodriguez, who both seemed destined to leave the Bernabeu this summer.

If Bale is to stay – albeit unlikely at this stage – his performance at the FedExField certainly did him no harm.

He was the star of the second half, scoring and creating down one end and clearing off the line down the other.

Neither side could find themselves a winner, and now it’s all eyes on Bale and Zidane to see who comes out victorious in their off-field battle.



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