ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- The legendary Manchester United Football Club didn't let the Red Devils faithful in Michigan down at the Big House in Ann Arbor today with a hard-fought 3-1 win over archrivals Real Madrid.
The mega-clash, the first soccer game ever played at Michigan Stadium, was attended by a crowd of 109,318, a record for a soccer match in America.
And when champion Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo made an unexpected appearance at the 74th-minute of the battle in the Guinness International Champions Cup group game, the fans went wild as the two power house European clubs slugged it out.
Ronaldo had been rested by Real coach Carlo Ancelotti, who obviously had a change of heart late in the game.
Afterwards, he said his decision to play Ronaldo, who has a case of tendinitis in his right knee, was to help the player get back in shape for the coming European season as much as for the thousands of his fans who wanted to see him play.
Manchester started fast with star striker Wayne Rooney, who was replaced in the second half, making several laser-like passes into the box. He was also dangerous in the air.
At the 14-minute mark, the Red Devils captain, Darren Fletcher, let fly with a shot on goal, just missing to the left.
Xabi Alonso and Daniel Carvajal kept it tight in midfield and defense for Real Madrid, whose nickname is "Los Blancos."
All of a sudden, it become the Ashley Young show as the Manchester United midfielder rattled home a goal on an assist from Danny Welbeck and Fletcher, giving the Red Devils a 1-0 lead at the 21st minute mark.
Real Madrid didn't take long to tie the match up, however, when prolific goal-scorer Gareth Bale was tackled hard in the box and awarded a penalty kick at the 27th minute.
He deftly shot the ball to the right and into the net, leaving goal keeper David De Gea stranded.
Young, who obviously liked the feel of the natural grass of the Big House, laid Tuesday over artificial turf, made it 2-1 Manchester with a cannon-like shot from 25 yards out at 36:18 of the first half.
At the break, the Red Devils led 2-1, thanks to Young's foot and a midfield that kept pumping the ball into attack.
Real Madrid kept pressing in the second half, taking a number of corners.
But when United's Javier Hernandez headed in a goal in the 80th minute, to make it 3-1, it took the wind out of Real's sail.
Despite it being considered a "friendly international," several yellow cards were handed out by referee Hilario Grajeda.
Manchester United's new coach Louis van Gaal felt it was a tough contest, just what his team needed. They will now play bitter English rival Liverpool in the final of the International Champions Cup on Monday in Miami.
"The game was not a friendly," said van Gaal, who managed the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. "Real didn't want to loose – and we won and deserved to win."
Van Gaal said he was "amazed" at the size of the crowd at Michigan Stadium and how the ICC matches had been attended in general.
"Within 14 days, we have played for more than 300,000 fans," said van Gaal. "To meet the American fans – that has been a very good point" of the tour.
Van Gaal wouldn't get carried away with the victory over Real Madrid, but he was satisfied with the effort from his players.
"We shall beat every team? It's not like that, of course," said van Gaal. "But is a very good result for us. I changed a lot of players; despite that, we scored in the second half and before. So we at the right way, I think."