Manchester United won their opening International Champions Cup game after regulation time ended 1-1 and 26 spot kicks were required to finally separate the two sides in the ensuing penalty shootout.

Milan’s Franck Kessie missed the final and decisive effort from 12 yards but José Mourinho’s team again struggled for fluency, with Alexis Sánchez a class above his team-mates once more.

The Chilean starred in the drab goalless affair with San Jose Earthquakes and was again United’s one bright light at the StubHub Center.

Mourinho spent a muggy evening in south Los Angeles frustrated with his side’s display, his body language around the technical area leaving no doubt regarding his feeling.

There was, in truth, only the odd flash of invention and when it appeared Sánchez was usually involved.

Juan Mata forced an opening corner from a free-kick after United’s captain for the evening, Matteo Darmian, was felled. It came to nothing but when Scott McTominay drilled a shot at Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal from the right the No 1 needed to be sharp to save low.

The keeper did precisely the same later on when Sanchez pinged a 30-yard free-kick from the left to draw “oohs” from a not-quite full stadium.

The next time United threatened there were cheers to hail arguably their finest move of the tour. Mata hit a slick first-time pass through to Sánchez and the Chilean beat Donnarumma to his left with a classy finish.

When the team sheet dropped the absence of Anthony Martial had meant some intrigue regarding who Mourinho might select at No 9. The Frenchman had earlier flown home and out of the tour in abrupt fashion to attend the birth of his child.

There had been no warning he might depart – Mourinho did not mention the prospect at UCLA last week when branding pre-season “very bad” due to the number of players absent due to post-World Cup holidays.

The manager’s answer to Martial’s departure was to name Sánchez at centre-forward, with Mata and McTominay as two in support in what was a rare 3-4-2-1 shape. The three centre-back system did nothing to stop Suso’s equaliser, which arrived moments after Sánchez’s strike.

Leonardo Bonucci threaded a long pass into the Spaniard and he beat Lee Grant confidently. An annoyed Mourinho waved a hand before his face, a gesture to coaching staff to indicate a concentration deficit in defence.