The Chicago Fire ran out to a 1-0 lead through veteran defender Cory Gibbs’ 13th minute header but Premiership champions Manchester United used three second half goals to best the hosts 3-1 in front of a club record crowd of 61,308 Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field.
It wasn’t all roses early as United nearly took a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute when Danny Welbeck slipped Dimitar Berbatov into the Fire penalty area before firing a low blast which second-year ‘keeper Sean Johnson was equal to.
Eight minutes later the Fire took a dream lead when Cory Gibbs, a veteran defender who spent the 2006-07 season with English side Charlton Athletic, put the Fire on top in the 13th minute. Following a foul 40 yards from goal, midfielder Marco Pappa sent in a well-struck free kick from the right touchline, finding Gibbs who out-jumped United center back Phil Jones and headed past David de Gea, giving the Fire a 1-0 lead.
Playing at Soldier Field for the first time since October 2005, the Fire nearly doubled their lead over the reining Premier League champions twice before the half.
First in the 32nd minute when a whipping cross from right back Jalil Anibaba was headed back into the box by his opposite number Fabio. Fire striker Dominic Oduro looked to settle it but his strike partner Cristian Nazarit took control and fired a quick effort just wide left of de Gea’s goal.
Just before halftime it was defender Gonzalo Segares who beat Gabriel Obertan down the left before centering a low ball for Patrick Nyarko. The Ghanaian winger cradled the pass before firing a belting rocket which de Gea did well to hang on to, sending the Fire into the halftime break with a 1-0 lead.
Coming out of the interval, both teams made multiple changes, but it was United that showed their intent to change the result as they brought on Wayne Rooney, Ji-Sung Park and Ryan Giggs.
Despite the additions to the United attack, the Fire nearly found the second goal twice again on the other side of the half. The first came in the 52nd minute as Nyarko chased a long ball down the left. The Ghanaian centered a ball for Orr Barouch but his incidental contact with Jonny Evans caused the pass to fall to the feet of an open Baggio Husidic. The Bosnian-born midfielder put his one-time effort just wide right of de Gea’s goal to keep the Fire’s lead to one.
It was Nyarko on the left again in the 63rd minute. The crafty winger send an angled ball to second half substitute Orr Barouch inside the 18-yard box. The 19-year-old forward collected the pass at the top of the box before firing a low blast off the woodwork.
The Fire would go on to rue the missed opportunities three minutes later when substitute defender Rio Ferdinand played a pinpoint ball over the top for Wayne Rooney who took one touch before chipping over onrushing Fire ‘keeper Jon Conway to level the score at 1-1 in the 66thminute.
United would increase their lead when a great combination between Rafael and Nani on the right flank saw the Brazilian right back enter the Fire box before shooting from a very acute angle, beating Conway to the near post and giving the Red Devils a 2-1 lead in the 75th minute.
Spurred by the go-ahead goal, United would grab one more in the 82nd minute. Italian striker Federico Macheda ran down a long ball on the right and cut back before finding Nani running into space. The Portuguese winger touched the ball off of Gibbs before going in alone and slotting a low ball past Conway to give United a 3-1 victory.
The Men in Red return to league play as they welcome the Philadelphia Union to TOYOTA PARK on Wednesday, August 3 at 8:00 p.m. CT (My50). Tickets are still available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), or by heading to the club’s official website at Chicago-Fire.com.
- The game set a Soldier Field attendance record for an international club match at 61,308 and was also the highest attended Fire game of all-time, besting the previous record of 54,532 set on July 16, 2005.
- The match was the first game played by the Fire at its first home since a 0-0 draw with DC United during the 2005 MLS Cup playoffs on October 21, 2005.
Chicago Fire 1 – 3 Manchester United
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson (Jon Conway 46’); Jalil Anibaba (Mike Videira 88’), Yamith Cuesta (Josip Mikulic 46’), Cory Gibbs (Dasan Robinson 88’), Gonzalo Segares (Pari Pantazopoulos 88’); Marco Pappa (Sebastian Grazzini 62’), Logan Pause © (Baggio Husidic 46’), Daniel Paladini (Corben Bone 88’), Patrick Nyarko (Diego Chaves 79’); Dominic Oduro (Bratislav Ristic 72’), Cristian Nazarit (Orr Barouch 46’)
Manchester United: David de Gea, Patrick Evra © (Rio Ferdinand 56’), Phil Jones (Rafael 75’), Chris Smalling (Nemanja Vidic 75’), Fabio da Silva (Jonny Evans 46’), Michael Carrick (Anderson 46’), Gabriel Obertan (Nani 56’), Tom Cleverly (Park Ji-Sung 46’), Dimitar Berbatov (Wayne Rooney 46’), Danny Welbeck (Federico Macheda 75’), Mame Biram Diouf (Ryan Giggs 46’).
CHI – Cory Gibbs (Marco Pappa) 13’
MU – Wayne Rooney (Rio Ferdinand) 66’
MU – Rafael (Nani) 75’
MU – Nani (unassisted) 82’
MU – Ryan Giggs (caution) 81’
Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee’s Assistants: George Gasner, Eric Boria
4th Referee: Michael Kennedy