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Aug 2, 2014

Man United win in front of 109,318

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Michigan Stadium's crowd had an unusual red hue as soccer fans came out to watch Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Manchester United thrilled a record crowd with a brilliant opening goal -- and even Cristiano Ronaldo's unexpected entrance proved futile for Real Madrid.

Ashley Young scored twice in the first half, and United beat Madrid 3-1 on Saturday in front of 109,318 fans at Michigan Stadium.

It was the largest crowd to see a soccer game in the United States, breaking the mark of 101,799 set at the Rose Bowl for the 1984 Olympic final. 

"That was incredible," United's Michael Keane said. "Obviously, it is the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of, and it is for a friendly in the States. I've always heard they don't care for our football, but there were 109,000 people out there. That's pretty crazy anywhere in the world."

Ronaldo has been recovering from the left leg injury that limited him in the World Cup, but the world player of the year came on surprisingly as a 74th-minute substitute, although he didn't have much impact.

Largest Soccer Crowds in United States

                  Result                  Attendance  Stadium
2014 IC Cup       Man United 3, Real 1    109,318     Mich. Stadium
1984 Olympics     France 2, Brazil 0      101,799     Rose Bowl
1984 Olympics     Yugoslavia 2, Italy 1   100,374     Rose Bowl
1984 Olympics     France 4, Yugoslavia 2   97,451     Rose Bowl
1994 World Cup    Brazil 0, Italy 0        94,194     Rose Bowl

Louis van Gaal claimed his biggest scalp of the preseason as the new manager racked up his fourth win of the summer thanks to Young and another goal from substitute Javier Hernandez.

Ronaldo could not help an out-of-sorts Madrid, whose only goal came courtesy of Gareth Bale's penalty.

United, who have recorded wins over the Los Angles Galaxy, Roma and Inter Milan in the U.S., advance to the final of the International Champions Cup on Monday night in Miami. There, Van Gaal will get his first taste of United's bitter rivalry with Liverpool, who qualified for the final after Manchester City lost 5-4 on penalties to Olympiakos following a 2-2 draw in Minneapolis.

- Payne: Young and Fletcher thrive under Van Gaal

Real Madrid's starting XI did not include Ronaldo, and new signings Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, but there were still plenty of stars on show in white. The likes of Bale, Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso were second best in the opening half though as United dominated from the off.

Darren Fletcher in particular impressed early on. The Scot dictated play from deep, spraying passes across the vast surface in Ann Arbor.

Despite playing in an unfamiliar wing-back role, Young, second from right, struck twice in the first half..

United's captain for the night flashed a shot wide from 20 yards after 13 minutes and soon after he played a big part in the brilliant first goal. The midfielder played the ball into Wayne Rooney, who returned it with a deft backheel. Fletcher then squared to Danny Welbeck, who teed up Young and he drilled the ball past Iker Casillas at his near post.

It took Carlo Ancelotti's team just six minutes to equalise. Michael Keane, making his first start of the tour, clambered all over Bale's back and the Welshman went to ground to earn a penalty. The former Tottenham winger converted the spot-kick to David de Gea's left.

Bale later tested De Gea with an overhead kick, but United remained on top and they deservedly regained the lead nine minutes from halftime.

Young cut in from the left and floated a ball to the back post. Rooney missed as he jumped for the header, but his body movement was enough to wrong-foot Casillas and the ball sailed in at the far post.

Welbeck suffered an injury and came off for Wilfried Zaha just before the break. Van Gaal then made three substitutions at halftime, and another three on the hour. With Rooney, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata off the pitch, United were nowhere near as strong.

Bale struck a post with a dipping free-kick. Madrid fans called for Ronaldo's introduction, yelling his name as he warmed up on the touchline.

Tickets for the Ann Arbor game sold out in less than a day back in April.

Then, with 17 minutes left, the decibel levels rocketed inside the Michigan Stadium as Ronaldo replaced Alvaro Arbeloa.

The Portuguese wowed the crowds with a couple of neat step-overs, but he could not swing the match in Real's favour.

Hernandez put the result beyond any doubt when he nodded in Shinji Kagawa's pin-point pass from close range in the 80th minute.

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