Pre-season friendlies are the Alice in Wonderland of football, producing oddities in the form of results, triallists and unlikely match-ups that wouldn’t look out of place in the Lewis Carroll tale.
With that in mind, here are nine football results from this summer that are guaranteed to make you look twice, from conquered European giants to the most pointless of penalty shootouts.
1. Sheffield United 1-1 Inter Milan
There was a time when Sheffield United were a bigger side than Inter Milan, but then the English club were formed around 20 years before their Italian counterparts.
David McGoldrick had the Blades in dreamland with a long-range strike 28 minutes in, but Mauro Icardi brought them crashing back down to earth with a goal seven minutes later. Still, an impressive share of the spoils.
2. ATV Irdning 0-22 Everton
At what point during Everton’s 22-0 win against Austrian side ATV Irdning were the Toffees satisfied the three (non-existent) points were secured? 5-0? 15-0? By 20 their appetite had not been sated.
Kevin Mirallas led the way with five goals, with four apiece for Cenk Tosun and Oumar Niasse and a hat-trick from Ademola Lookman in a game which descended into farce. They were all away goals too… ouch.
3. Accrington Stanley 3-0 Huddersfield Town
Accrington Stanley earned promotion from League Two to League One last season, and if their 3-0 win over Premier League Huddersfield is anything to go by they’ll do just fine in English football’s third tier.
Two goals from Kayden Jackson and one from Sean McConville sealed a result that wouldn’t look out of place in a 1950s FA Cup final. Watch out for Stanley this season, everyone.
4. Halmstads BK 1-6 Crystal Palace
First of all, a very enjoyable scoreline, but the significance of Palace’s game against Swedish side Halmstads BK lies with the south London team’s manager, Roy Hodgson.
Hodgson’s managerial career is over 40 years in length, and it all started with a stint at Halmstads as a 28-year-old, where the future England boss won the Swedish first division in his first year with the semi-professional side, an achievement considered one of the biggest surprises in Swedish football history.
5. Arsenal 1-2 Brentford
According to Football.London Arsenal played a game against Brentford that was “not considered to be an official friendly match”.
Official or not, the Gunners apparently lost 2-1 to the Championship side in a game which included plenty of rotation ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Singapore, where Paris St-Germain and Atletico Madrid will provide more difficult tests.
6. Bournemouth 4-3 Levante
Just a fun match-up between Bournemouth, who earned 44 points in the Premier League last season, and Levante, who accrued 46 points in La Liga.
The game that followed proved equally close and was settled late on by Lewis Cook after a first half that boasted six goals. Settle down lads, it’s July.
7. Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool
Something fans expect pre-season to provide is random match-ups between teams who probably won’t meet again all season, so when two of the Premier League’s finest came face to face before school was out for summer, it seemed a bit premature.
Liverpool beat league champions City three times last season and refused to kick the habit this time around, triumphing 2-1 thanks to Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Will the Reds challenge City domestically this season?
8. Walsall 2-0 Ajax
Only 2,449 people showed up to witness Walsall host four-time European Champions Ajax earlier in the summer, but that wasn’t the most curious thing about the game – Walsall won 2-0.
No pre-season fixture can be considered all that important, but Walsall’s website was not wrong when it described the result as a “historic pre-season win”, a brace from Andy Cook giving the League One side something to brag about to their mates.
9. AC Milan 1-1 Manchester United (United win 9-8 on penalties)
There’s nothing inherently amusing about AC Milan drawing 1-1 with Manchester United, but when you find out they went to the trouble of taking 26 penalties to decide the outcome of a pre-season game, you might allow yourself a chuckle.