Real Madrid 3 AC Milan 1: Higuain goal not enough for Rossoneri

Gonzalo Higuain’s first AC Milan goal proved inconsequential as Real Madrid warmed up for the UEFA Super Cup with an entertaining 3-1 friendly win.

Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale netted either side of Higuain’s classy curling finish before substitute Borja Mayoral capped off the hosts’ third successive pre-season victory in stoppage time.

Mayoral’s goal came courtesy of a rebound from Luka Modric’s intial effort, the Inter transfer target having returned via the bench for his first 15 minutes of action since the World Cup.

However, Thibaut Courtois – a reported €39million signing from Chelsea in midweek – could miss Wednesday’s clash with city rivals Atletico Madrid after sitting out on Saturday, which enabled Keylor Navas to keep his place in goal.

Played as a 60th-anniversary tribute to the European Cup final the two clubs contested in 1958, the match began at a pace befitting that five-goal thriller.

Benzema continued his impressive pre-season by nodding home Dani Carvajal’s teasing cross for a second-minute opener.

The lead lasted barely two minutes, though, as former Madrid man Higuain picked out the bottom right corner from 20 yards moments after Navas had denied Fabio Borini.

An end-to-end contest ensued from there with Gianluigi Donnarumma saving from both Bale and Marco Asensio, before a fast-retreating Carvajal cleared a goal-bound Franck Kessie finish off the line.

And there was further drama to come in the first minute of first-half stoppage time, Bale rifling in what proved the winner when a corner dropped kindly in the box.

Gennaro Gattuso gave Mattia Caldara his Rossoneri debut after the interval but there was to be no second equaliser for the Serie A side, who instead shipped a third late on as Mayoral pounced on a loose ball, Donnarumma having saved impressively in a one-on-one with Modric.


Higuain: AC Milan will bring out the best in me

Gonzalo Higuain believes he and AC Milan can bring out the best in each other to “achieve great things” since his arrival from Juventus.

The striker moved to the Rossoneri on loan from the Turin side together with Mattia Caldara, while Leonardo Bonucci went the other way.

Chelsea approached Juve over the Argentina international, but he opted for the San Siro club because he felt Maurizio Sarri was the only one at Stamford Bridge who wanted him.

And the 30-year-old believes he made the right choice, as he sees a bright future ahead for himself and his new team.

“First of all it was Leonardo who convinced me with the very nice things he said about me,” Higuain told DAZN . “Then also the coach as well as the club for investing in me. 

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“This is a team that, in my opinion, can achieve great things. A team with the characteristics that can allow me to be at my best. As well as the challenge of, along with my team-mates, bringing Milan back to what it was, meaning reaching as high as possible.

“I feel a deep joy, to stay at AC Milan makes me proud. I hope to earn all this trust, I’m very faithful about this new adventure.”

Fellow new arrival Caldara also hopes to lift silverware with Gennaro Gattuso’s team after being convinced to make the switch.

“It’s the first time I’ve had such a feeling, I didn’t expect such a joy, I’m glad to be here,” he said.

“I hope I can win something with AC Milan, as I haven’t won anything yet.

“I think I’m in the right place at the right moment. AC Milan called me up and you can’t say no to AC Milan.

“Gattuso didn’t struggle to convince me.. he phoned me, he told me there’s a lot to work but also a desire to have fun.


Higuain targeting his own Serie A goals record after Milan move

Gonzalo Higuain has set his sights on breaking his own Serie A goals record after moving from Juventus to AC Milan.

The Argentina striker has joined Milan on a season-long loan as part of a deal that sees Mattia Caldara move to San Siro with Leonardo Bonucci returning to the Serie A champions after a single season.

Higuain hit 36 goals for Napoli in the 2015-16 season, earning a move to Juve, where he won a brace of Serie A titles and Coppe Italia.

But the 30-year-old, made available by Juve after their €112 million (£100m/$130m) purchase of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid, believes he can break that record.

“It will be very hard… but when you begin a new adventure you want to find new challenges so I’ll try,” Higuain said to DAZN. “That’s the beauty of football in the end.

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“I didn’t have the chance to speak too much with Gattuso but we all know he made history for AC Milan, he won the World Cup with Italy, so it’s a huge honour for me to play under him.

“I want to make the fans happy, as well as the club that put their confidence in me. I want to win something important with this shirt.”

Caldara did not make a competitive appearance for Juve, spending last term on loan at Atalanta after the Bianconeri sealed a deal to sign the centre-back from the Bergamo club.

Mattia Caldara Gonzalo Higuain Milan

And the 24-year-old is now hoping to establish a strong partnership with another rising star Italy international, Alessio Romagnoli, as he bids to replace Bonucci at San Siro.

“Alessio is a very strong player,” Caldara said to DAZN. “He is one year younger than me but he has already more than 100 appearences in Serie A. It will be a great opportunity for me to play beside him. 

“I hope to show to be at his level and to play beside him also for the national team but all these things we will need to prove on the pitch.

“When I heard the rumours I was in America. I kept receiving texts from my friends but initially I didn’t know much about it.

“Then my agent called me for the first time, saying it was a concrete opportunity. So I started to think about it and every day I was more convinced of coming here. Now, having worn this shirt, I can say it has a very unique taste.”


Suso rues loss of Bonucci leadership at AC Milan while admitting to receiving offers himself

AC Milan star Suso believes the club will miss the leadership and experience of Leonardo Bonucci, but he understands why the defender returned to Juventus.

Bonucci spent a single season with the Rossoneri, returning to the Serie A champions with Mattia Caldara and Gonzalo Higuain both moving to San Siro.

Italy centre-back Bonucci captained Milan during his year at the club and Suso feels the 31-year-old will be missed, although he is happy to see Higuain arrive.

“Yes, we lose leadership and experience,” Suso told Marca of Bonucci’s departure. 

“He brought many things in a very young team. He feels he took a step back signing for Milan and that is why he returns to Juventus.

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“When the project is interesting and players like Higuain arrive it is always positive. The level of the team increases.

“If the year is good for him, it will automatically be good for us too. He is a player who stands out well and knows what to do with the ball.”

In an uneven season for Milan that saw the club miss out on Champions League qualification, Suso excelled with seven assists and six goals in Serie A.

Suso Milan

The 24-year-old, who made his Spain debut last November, says Milan have rejected a series of bids from various clubs and he could consider extending his contract.

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“We had several offers, four or five. But the club was not willing to negotiate,” Suso added. 

“I always say that I love Milan and my family is very happy. With the new owners we will sit down to talk to renew again. I renewed in November and may be able to do it again soon. And for me it is a pride.

“Although Juventus is now in charge of the titles, one knows and feels that Milan is one of the strongest clubs. It will be a joy to say that I have been an important player in Milan.”


‘Only Sarri wanted me’ – Higuain explains reason for choosing AC Milan over Chelsea

Gonzalo Higuain has suggested that Maurizio Sarri wanted to sign him for Chelsea, but the lack of enthusiasm from the Blues as a whole meant he chose against moving to Stamford Bridge.

Higuain has joined AC Milan on loan, with defender Leonardo Bonucci heading the other way to Juventus in a deal that also involved Mattia Caldara moving to San Siro.

Goal understands that Chelsea held talks with Juve over the possibility of signing Higuain, along with defender Daniele Rugani, with the Argentina international surplus to requirements following the Italian club’s signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.

However, the 30-year-old believes that Sarri was the only person in west London keen on the move.

“In total sincerity, the esteem I have for Sarri is huge but he was the only who wanted me,” he said at a press conference.

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“Here at Milan everyone wanted me, and this is why I made my choice to come here.”

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He added: “I have been playing in Europe for 12 years, Milan was the team that struck me the most, it’s what the player wants to see: History, lots of green, pure football. It gives you goosebumps, it’s special stuff.”

Higuain joined Juventus from Napoli in 2016, scoring a total of 55 goals in 105 appearances.

The striker also scored 92 goals in 147 appearances in Naples, and netted 122 goals in 264 games for Real Madrid.