By Peter Hall
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Real Madrid beat Arsenal in a penalty shootout after Gareth Bale had made a goalscoring return to the Spanish side in a thrilling 2-2 draw at the International Champions Cup on Tuesday.
Arsenal named a strong side captained by Mesut Ozil while Real had Bale on the bench and Eden Hazard, wearing the number 50 shirt, starting alongside fellow new signing Luka Jovic in attack.
The match, however, looked to be over as a contest after Real defender Nacho was sent off for two yellow cards in a frantic early spell in the United States capital.
The Spain international was shown one yellow card for a foul on Sead Kolasinac and another after blocking Alexandre Lacazette’s shot with his hand on the goal line.
Lacazette stepped up to sneak the 10th minute penalty home, before the Frenchman delightfully flicked the ball through for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to double the lead 14 minutes later.
The referee evened things up, however, when he again brandished two yellow cards in quick succession to send Arsenal’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos from the field in the 40th minute.
Bale, who is expected to leave Real before the start of next season, and Marco Asensio scored inside three second half minutes to level up the scores and take the game to penalties.Arsenal edged in front in the shootout when Reiss Nelson scored his spot kick and Bale missed his, but misses from Granit Xhaka, Nacho Monreal and Robbie Burton proved costly and Real ran out 3-2 winners.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane said it was his decision to give Bale his first minutes of the pre-season, despite revealing this week the club planned to sell the Welsh forward.
“He played because he wanted to be with us and play, the other day (against Bayern Munich) not,” Zidane said. “He played and well.
“Today he played, the decision is mine, he played a part and we will see what will happen. Nothing has changed. You know the situation.”
Arsenal return to England having narrowly missed the chance to finish their U.S tour with a 100 per cent record, but can take plenty of positives from their four matches.
“We finished today, the last match, with the same spirit we played before,” Arsenal manager Unai Emery said. “We used different players and took minutes and confidence.
“The result isn’t important but we showed a good level and when we needed young players their performance was perfect.”
(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Nick Mulvenney)