LANDOVER, Md. — Louis Van Gaal said Manchester United’s performance in Tuesday night’s scoreless draw against Inter Milan was better than each of his team’s previous preseason games.
It was a revealing comment when it comes to the coach’s priorities.
Darren Fletcher converted the decisive fifth penalty opportunity in Manchester United’s victory over Inter Milan in the second game for both teams in the International Champions Cup.
United outscored its opponents 10-2 in its previous two matches, but Van Gaal took more pleasure in allowing Inter only one shot on goal.
“I’m very pleased,” said Van Gaal, who takes over United after it finished an embarrassing seventh last season in the Premier League. “We created I think six (or) seven chances, so then it is seven against one, and I was very pleased with our ball possession. It was much better than the other matches.”
Marco Andreolli struck the crossbar on Inter’s fourth penalty kick, the only miss of nine attempts.
Inter defeated Real Madrid on penalties Saturday before losing this match between traditional European powers looking to rebound from sub-par seasons.
Manchester United defeated AS Roma 3-2 in its first Champions Cup match Saturday, but allowed two late goals after going ahead 3-0. United also thumped Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy 7-0 in a friendly last Wednesday.
It generated several quality chances Tuesday, coming closest to scoring when Samir Handanovic made a diving stop on Jonny Evans’ header in the 11th minute.
Following the offseason departures of defenders Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, with the latter now playing for Inter, the shutout against quality opposition outweighed any wasteful finishing.
“We have to wait and see if we can do that in more matches like today,” Van Gaal said. “We are looking for defenders because a lot of defenders have gone and then we have to replace them. But I like also (current players) Michael Keane and Tyler Blackett.”
Inter also is looking to bounce back after finishing fifth in their 2013-14 Serie A campaign.
Given that, and the absence of key striker Rodrigo Palacio, who played for World Cup finalist Argentina, coach Walter Mazzarri appeared equally happy with his side’s effort.
“We obviously don’t have our full squad yet,” Mazzarri said through an interpreter. “Man U had almost their full squad. The team that had played very well and beaten Rome and the Galaxy. So this was a pretty even match, and I am very happy with the performance with our team.”
Still, most of the chances were United’s.
After Handanovic denied Evans early on, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata has solid long-range attempts in the first half.
After halftime, Tom Cleverley fired just high with his half-volley before Nani drove his open chance from just inside the penalty area straight at substitute goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.
Inter’s best chance came late, when diving goalkeeper David De Gea pushed away Fredy Guarin’s long free kick.
The game attracted a crowd of 61,238, and most wore United’s Red and White. But the loudest ovation during pregame introductions went to Vidic, who previously spent eight-and-a-half years with United.
“It was a pleasure to see a player that was welcomed back even though he left a team,” Mazzarri said. “So yes, it was very nice to see. They are things that are very good for football.”
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