By Izuchukwu Okosi
The trio of Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Mohamed Elneny watched from the sideline as Arsenal were defeated 3-1 on penalties by Atletico Madrid in both teams’ first game of the International Champions Cup (ICC) at the Singapore National stadium Thursday afternoon.
The game had ended 1-1 at regulation time with managers Unai Emery for Arsenal and Diego Simeone making wholesale changes in the second half.
Arsenal started the ICC game brightly with Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Riess Nelson proving handful from the flanks while new signing Matteo Guenduezi showed his mettle in central midfield alongside Aaron Ramsey who was captain of the day.
The Gunners had a couple of chances to score with Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak twice denying point blank shots from Alexander Lacazette and once from Nelson who had a lovely exchange of passes with the Frenchman.
However it was Atletico who defeated Arsenal 2-1 on aggregate in the Europa League semifinals last season on their way to winning the title that got ahead in the 41st minute through Luciano Vietto who profited from an Angel Correa’s cross to head the ball beyond Bernd Leno in goal. Correa was challenged by a sloppy Guenduezi.
Arsenal produced a better performance in the second half but could not break the Spaniards down and the game went into penalties with the Gunners missing three of their four kicks, only Ainsley Maitland Niles put the ball past Antonio Adam while Atletico scored three, Adan, their goalkeeper for the second half converting his kick for the winner.
Atletico Madrid will play Paris Saint Germain on Monday but Arsenal will be the first to test the might of the French champions previously managed by Arsenal head coach Unai Emery on Saturday.
In the other International Champions League (ICC) matches on Thursday, Juventus defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 in their first match of the International Champions Cup at the Lincoln Financial Field which kicked off 12am Thursday morning Nigerian time.
Andrea Favilli scored a brace in the 32nd and 40th minutes.
The youngster pounced on a terrible clearance by the Bayern keeper who himself received a bad back pass from his defender.
Eight minutes later, Favilli made a run and was fed by a long pass by Alex Sandro and struck the ball to find the bottom right corner.
The game marked debut appearances for the Old Lady for Joao Cancelo, Mattia Perin and Emre Can.
Liverpool came from a goal down to defeat Manchester City 2-1 at the MetLife Stadium.
Mohamed Salah scored within seconds of coming off the bench while Senegal superstar Sadio Mane donning the number 10 jersey converted a last gasp penalty to claim the points for the Reds. Leroy Sane scored a 57th minute goal with an excellent run and ruthless finish despite the challenge of two markers.
Manchester United defeated AC Milan 9-8 on penalties after Alexis Sanchez and Suso had scored for their respective clubs to end the game 1-1 in regulation time.
Tottenham defeated Roma 4-1.
The game between Borussia Dortmund and Benfica ended 2-2 at full time but the Portuguese side won 4-3 on penalties.