After twelve months of gruelling qualification tournaments around the world, involving more than 8,000 teams, the World Finals of the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) finally kicked off at the Aon Training Complex today.
Grey skies threatened overhead and a wintry, blustery wind marked the kick off for the first matches of the twentieth edition of MUPC this morning.
There were strong assured performances from tournament favourites Right to Dream, Borussia Dortmund, and previous MUPC Champions Chivas, who all launched their 2013 MUPC campaign with impressive scorelines, amassing 12 goals in three games.
Efficient wins also yesterday morning from Ulsan Hyundai, Grasshopper Zurich, Omiya Ardija and SC Internacional, who started their march towards Old Trafford with a convincing 1-0 win over Arsenal. Boca Juniors and AC Milan cancelled each other out in an intense 1-1 draw, and it was business as usual for Real Madrid with a 2-0 victory over Rosina Sedibane, the South African starlets suffering their second defeat of the morning and, along with Onehunga Sports from New Zealand, are yet to find their feet in the tournament.
Dinamo Zagreb held Right to Dream to a 1-1 draw in the Ghanaian team's second match of the morning. Tournament hosts Manchester United could not find a winning goal in their 1-1 draw with Chilean team San Luis de Quillota, and faced Real Madrid in their hotly anticipated match this afternoon.
In Group A, Manchester United and Real Madrid were evenly matched throughout, but Real found the back of the net in the dying minutes of the game, securing the win, and six points from their first days play.
“This has been a very nice experience already for the whole team,” said Coach Ruben de la Red. “Seeing how many big stars started in this tournament was very inspiring for them.
“We were a little worried about the short preparation time in between holidays and the tournament, but I am pleased with the good start, and hope we can continue to play well.”
Ulsan Hyundai continued their winning ways, beating San Luis de Quillota 2-1 and, with six points apiece, share top spot in Group A with Real Madrid.
Boca Juniors hit an impressive five goals past Shandong Luneng, and Dinamo Zagreb got the upper hand over AC Milan with a 2-1 victory, leaving Right to Dream, Boca Juniors and Dinamo Zagreb finishing the day joint top of Group B with four points each.
Omiya Ardija and SC Internacional took a goal each from their encounter, and share the lead in Group C, with four points apiece. Arsenal beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1, leaving both teams with one win, and joint third place with three points.
In Group D Grasshopper Club Zurich, the third placed team from the European Qualifiers, leads the way with six points, and Chivas and Domzale currently reside in third position with three points.
54 goals and two hat-tricks marked the end of the first days play in the 2013 MUPC World Finals as the sunshine finally broke through the grey Manchester skyline.
Rosina Sedibane 1:2 Ulsan Hyundai, San Luis de Quillota 1:1 Manchester United, Real Madrid 2:0 Rosina Sedibane, Ulsan Hyundai 2:1 San Luis de Quilotta, Manchester United 0:1 Manchester United.
Right to Dream 9:0 Shandong Luneng, Boca Juniors 1:1 AC Milan, Dinamo Zagreb 1:1 Right to Dream, Shandong Luneng 0:5 Boca Juniors, AC Milan 1:2 Dinamo Zagreb.
Onehunga Sports 0:1 Omiya Ardija, SC Internacional 1:0 Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund 6:0 Onehunga Sports, Omiya Ardija 1:1 SC Internacional, Arsenal 3:0 Borussia Dortmund
Group D:Saswco FC 0:3 Chivas, Grasshopper Zurich 1:0 NK Domzale, Dallas Texans 0:0 Saswco FC, Chivas 0:1 Grasshopper Zurich, NK Domzale 2:1 Dallas Texans