REPORT | 08/08/2017 | Alberto Navarro (Skopje) | PHOTOGRAPHER: Ángel Martínez/Antonio VillalbaGoals from Casemiro and Isco were enough to beat Manchester United and give Real Madrid the first title of the season.
- UEFA Super Cup
The first quarter of an hour saw the sides trying to work each other out, although the only danger in the Philip II National Arena was coming from the madridistas. A cross from Marcelo in the second minute hit the back of a defender and Bale, smarter than everyone else, connected with the ball before it touched the ground and surprised De Gea. A few inches separated the Welshman from the goal.
Casemiro, 'box to box'
From there on, the Whites were the only team in it thanks to a spectacular Casemiro with the dangerous attacks becoming more and more frequent. A corner from Kroos in the 16th minute resulted in the Brazilian hitting the woodwork. Two minutes later, the madridista number 14 won back the ball on the edge of the area and his shot went just over. He was just getting his eye in for what would come next. A fine cross from Carvajal picked out the Brazilian at the back post who beat De Gea finishing first-time with the left-foot. It's the second consecutive final in which the Whites’ midfielder has been on the scoresheet.
That’s how things remained as the teams headed down the tunnel at the break, despite Real Madrid deserving to increase their advantage with a Benzema shot across goal on 43’ which De Gea did well to keep out. The second half kicked off in much the same vein, Kroos unleashing a fierce drive from the edge of the box on 48’, but again the Manchester United stopper was more than equal to it.
Isco gets on the scoresheet
Rashford’s arrival to replace Lingard did little to turn the tide of the game, as the madridistas continued to dictate play, before Isco stepped up to make their dominance count with 52 minutes on the clock. He received the ball on the edge of the area, played a neat one-two with Bale to evade two defenders, before showing great composure to steer the ball past David De Gea. The European Super Cup was within touching distance, but Manchester United looked to produce a reaction. They came close to cutting the deficit just two minutes later with a double chance for Pogba and Lukaku, but Keylor Navas reacted superbly to keep out the Frenchman’s powerful header.
Lukaku pulled one back
The European champions continued to pour forward in attack and they were inches away from making it three in the 61st minute when a fine Casemiro through ball found Bale, who unleashed with his right foot, only to see the ball come crashing back off the bar. Just one minute later and it was 2-1. Keylor Navas parried a Matic shot from outside the area but Lukaku was on hand to fire home the rebound and half the deficit.
There was still nearly half-an-hour left to play and the English side began to believe they could turn the match around. Rashford went through with only Navas to beat, but the madridista guardian produced a stunning save to keep their advantage intact. Asensio could have scored in added time following fantastic build-up from Lucas Vázquez, but Real Madrid were forced to dig in to see the game out, more evidence that this team are ready for anything that’s thrown at them. And that’s exactly what European Super Cup champions are made of.