Home Sports Pique’s second-half goal hands Valverde’s side victory over Madrid in Miami friendly

Pique’s second-half goal hands Valverde’s side victory over Madrid in Miami friendly

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Gerard Pique’s second-half strike proved to be the difference as Barcelona beat rivals Real Madrid 3-2 in the International Champions Cup in Miami.

In front of 66,014 fans at the Hard Rock Stadium, Barca raced into a two-goal lead thanks to goals from Lionel Messi (3) and Ivan Rakitic (6) before Real hit back through Mateo Kovacic (14) and Marco Asensio (36).

But Pique (50) proved to be the match-winner early in the second half, handing new Barca boss Ernesto Valverde victory in his first taste of El Clasico.

Barcelona, who included Neymar alongside Luis Suarez and Messi in their starting line-up, flew out of the traps, taking the lead in the third minute after Messi’s shot deflected up off Raphael Varane and over Keylor Navas.

Despite the speculation surrounding his future, Neymar looked up for the battle in Miami and played a key role in helping Barca extend their lead further three minutes later, squaring the ball for Suarez, who let the ball run on for Ivan Rakitic, and the Croatian midfielder powered a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.

In what was a frantic opening, Real pulled a goal back completely against the run of play when Kovacic’s strike beat the dive of Jasper Cillessen and found the bottom corner from 20 yards.

For a pre-season friendly there was a real intensity to the game and the challenges were flying in with Varane shown a yellow card for bringing down Neymar in full flow.

Moments before that Neymar, who was involved in a training ground bust-up with team-mate Nelson Semedo earlier in the week, was lucky to avoid punishment of his own after catching Casemiro with a nasty-looking studs up challenge.

However, the Brazilian forward was back to doing what he does best in the 30th minute, running at Dani Carvajal before firing a shot inches wide of the far post.

Barca threatened again moments later with Andres Iniesta picking out Messi on the edge of the penalty area, but for once the Argentina international’s finishing let him down, firing the ball high over the crossbar.

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