Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho were on target as Manchester United beat Arsenal 2-0 in a friendly front of 82,262 fans at MetLife Stadium on Saturday.
The New York and New Jersey fans of the two Premier League clubs saw a lively first half with both goals, but the game lost its way in the second half with mass substitutions from both teams.
United’s new Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana, signed from Inter Milan on Thursday in a £44 million deal, did not feature despite flying out to join the team’s tour in the United States.
Back-up Tom Heaton started in goal with Fernandes wearing the captain’s armband after replacing defender Harry Maguire in that role.
Brazilian winger Antony had the first chance for United when he was found in space in the middle of the box but he scuffed his shot which rolled harmlessly wide.
Arsenal began their tour of the USA with a 5-0 win over the MLS All Stars on Wednesday and went close to an opener through Gabriel Martinelli, but Heaton produced a fine double save to deny the Brazilian.
United took the lead on the half hour mark, with Fernandes cutting in from the right and unleashing a low left-foot drive which deceived Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Seven minutes later, Sancho doubled the lead when Arsenal defender Gabriel mis-kicked on the half-way line and the England forward burst away before blasting confidently home.
With United still searching for a central striker in the transfer market, Sancho played in a central role, rather than his usual position on the wing, and handled the switch well.
With both Erik Ten Hag and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta making full use of their squads after the break there was an inevitable loss of intensity and United’s lead was never in danger.
There was an encouraging display from 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo in the centre of United’s midfield and Fernandes was full of praise for the academy product.
“Honestly, Kobbie is a great player, he shows great resilience. Everyone can see it. He’s good on the ball, strong, he can defend and attack. He’s still pretty young but we see a bright future for him. Hopefully he will get more minutes,” said the Portuguese.
There was an unusual situation at the end of the game with both teams having agreed to take part in a penalty shoot-out regardless of the result.
Although there was nothing at stake in the shoot-out, which United won 5-3, both managers had agreed to take the chance to test their players’ mettle from the spot as a useful experience.
On Wednesday, United are in action again against Real Madrid in Houston while the Gunners are scheduled to face Barcelona in Los Angeles.
However Barca’s friendly against Juventus, due to be played later on Saturday, was cancelled after an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis among the Spanish team.
“A significant part of the blaugrana squad has a viral gastroenteritis,” Barcelona said in a statement.
Spanish media reported that at least a dozen players had fallen ill