Ronaldo strikes twice as Real Madrid claim Super Cup
James Rodriguez makes a winning debut in victory over Sevilla
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates a goal with James Rodriguez during last night’s Uefa Super Cup victory over Sevilla at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff. Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
The Welsh public turned out in force to cheer for their own hero, Gareth Bale, but the night belonged to the World Footballer of the Year.
The finalists arrived in the Welsh capital to be greeted by placards reminding them that Gareth Bale comes from these parts and that back in the mists of time Cardiff City beat Real 1-0 in the old Cup Winners Cup. It is conveniently overlooked that Jimmy Scoular’s team of fond memory lost the return 2-0 and went out.
Real were short-price favourites here, with Sevilla clearly second-best in terms of tradition and extravagant talent.
Real have won La Liga a record 32 times to their opponents’ once and last season Sevilla, who finished fifth, trailed them by 24 points. Carlo Ancelotti’s class of 2014-15 cost €452 million. A mismatch then?
Not exactly. Last March a 2-1 defeat in the Sanchez Pizjuan stadium derailed Real’s pursuit of the title whichwas won by their neighbours, Atletico.
The final was a sell-out, eventually, to Welsh relief. Of the 32,000 tickets sold only 10,000 were taken up by the two Spanish clubs, who returned most of their allocation. Some 22,000 went to British-based fans keen to see this stellar cast close up.
Describing Real’s formation is never easy, given their kaleidoscopic rotation, but here it approximated to 4-2-1-3, with Germany’s Tony Kroos doing most to screen the back four.
As might have been expected, Real did most of the attacking, with Bale (twice)and Ronaldo seeing shots deflected or blocked during the opening exchanges. Sevilla were content to respond on the break.
A notable absentee from their defence was Alberto Moreno, the 22-year-old left-back who is about to join Liverpool for an initial €15 million. His place was taken by Spain international Fernando Navarro.
Karim Benzema set up the best early chance, his pass inside allowing Ronaldo to shoot from seven yards, which drew an excellent, spreading save from Portugal’s Beto in the Sevilla goal. Real were denied only until the 30th minute.
Then Bale, who had swapped wings with Ronaldo, delivered an inviting cross from the left and the ultimate galactico, sliding in at the far post, opened the scoring from five yards.
Sevilla threatened to restore equality within four minutes when a feeble attempt at a headed clearance by James Rodriguez let in Daniel Carrico for a close-range shot which tested the reflexes of Iker Casillas.
Sevilla were undone again four minutes into the second half, when typical Real interplay, featuring Ronaldo, Kroos and Benzema culminated in Ronaldo driving home his second, left to right, from a yard or so inside Beto’s penalty area. The power behind the shot was impressive, but the goalkeeper might have done better.
Sevilla had to venture forward in greater numbers but Real, however, remained much the more cohesive, dangerous team and Benzema threatened to widen the margin after 63 minutes when his scudding strike was saved by Beto.
It took a notable save by the busy Beto to prevent Rodriguez, Colombia’s €80 million man, from celebrating his debut with a goal. The Golden Boot winner from the World Cup was substituted almost immediately – an acknowledgement from Ancelotti that Real’s job was done.
Ronaldo would probably have had a hat-trick late on but for the last-ditch tackle from Poland’s Gregor Krychowiak which dispossessed him.
REAL MADRID: Casillas,Carvajal,Pepe,Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao (Marcelo 84),Kroos,Rodriguez (Isco 72), Modric (Illarramendi 86),Bale,Benzema,Ronaldo. Subs not used: Navas,Varane,Arbeloa,Di Maria. Booked: Carvajal,Kroos. Goals: Ronaldo 30,49.
SEVILLA: Beto,Coke (Diogo Figueiras 84),Pareja,Fazio, Fernando Navarro,Alex Vidal (Aspas 66),Krychowiak,Carrico, Vitolo,Suarez (Reyes 79),Bacca. Subs not used: Barbosa, Jairo, Iborra, Luismi. Booked: Vitolo, Fernando Navarro. Attendance: 31,000
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England).