ISCO MAGIC WINS SU­PER CUP FOR REAL MADRID

WINS SU­PER CUP FOR REAL MADRID

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Skopje, Mace­do­nia - A de­light­ful goal by Isco proved the dif­fer­ence as Real Madrid sur­vived a Manch­ester United fight­back to win 2-1 and lift the UEFA Su­per Cup in the Mace­do­nian cap­i­tal Skopje on Tues­day.

Casemiro put the reign­ing Euro­pean cham­pion in front on 24 min­utes on a steamy sum­mer's night in the Balkans and Isco dou­bled its lead seven min­utes into the sec­ond half af­ter a one-two with Gareth Bale.

The gulf in class be­tween Madrid - for whom Cris­tiano Ron­aldo ap­peared as a late sub­sti­tute - and Europa League win­ner United that Jose Mour­inho had feared was all too ev­i­dent and it looked like the Spa­niards would go on to win by a wider mar­gin.

But Romelu Lukaku pulled one back just past the hour, mark­ing his com­pet­i­tive de­but for United with a goal and spark­ing a big im­prove­ment from the English Pre­mier League club in the fi­nal stages. It was to no avail, with Zine­dine Zi­dane's side win­ning this tro­phy for the sec­ond year run­ning and the fourth time over­all. It is the eighth time in nine years that a Span­ish club has won the Su­per Cup.

"It is all down to hard work. We know there is a lot of tal­ent in this team and there is so much hunger too, they al­ways want more," said Zi­dane af­ter lift­ing more sil­ver­ware. "To­day was an al­most per­fect match, and the first half was spec­tac­u­lar."

"There were big cel­e­bra­tions in the dress­ing room, we don't get tired of win­ning," said the French­man, whose side will de­fend the Cham­pi­ons League crown and the Span­ish League this sea­son. "I don't know if we can play any bet­ter, but we will try. We know that we have dif­fi­cult op­po­nents, with another one com­ing on Sun­day. But our am­bi­tion is to keep get­ting bet­ter."

Real faces Barcelona in the first leg of the Span­ish Su­per Cup on Sun­day and Ron­aldo will hope to play a key role in that game af­ter Tues­day’s brief ap­pear­ance.

While Ron­aldo started on the bench for Madrid hav­ing only com­menced pre-sea­son train­ing at the week­end, Bale was in­cluded in the first XI.

De­spite the pres­ence of US$97mn sign­ing Lukaku up front, with Paul Pogba be­hind, United of­ten gave the im­pres­sion that it could do with some ex­tra in­spi­ra­tion in the fi­nal third.

Hav­ing missed much of last sea­son's run-in due to in­jury, Bale is fit again, but it was Casemiro who emerged as the un­likely main threat go­ing for­ward for Real in the first half.

The break­through came just past the mid­way point in the first half as Dani Car­va­jal was af­forded the time to flight a ball over Vic­tor Lin­de­lof - another United debu­tant - for Casemiro to stretch and vol­ley past David de Gea.

Mour­inho sent on Mar­cus Rash­ford for Jesse Lin­gard at the start of the sec­ond half, yet it was at the other end that the chances kept com­ing. De Gea re­pelled a Kroos piledriver but there was

noth­ing he could do to stop Isco mak­ing it 2-0 in the 52nd minute.

Sur­rounded by red shirts just in­side the area, Isco es­caped their at­ten­tions by play­ing a one-two with Bale be­fore coolly fin­ish­ing past De Gea. Bale then struck the bar, and all this was go­ing on with­out Ron­aldo, who ap­peared from the bench to warm-up, rais­ing hys­ter­i­cal cheers from the size­able num­ber of lo­cals sup­port­ing Real.

United had a moun­tain to climb and was not helped when Lukaku blazed over af­ter Key­lor Navas pushed a Pogba header into his path.

Lukaku did not make the same mis­take twice, con­vert­ing the re­bound when a Ne­manja Matic drive was not con­vinc­ingly dealt with by Navas, but the goal­keeper re­deemed him­self with a vi­tal late save to deny Rash­ford.

And Real, with Ron­aldo on for the clos­ing stages, held out.

(AFP)

Real Madrid's Isco cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a goal against Manch­ester United on Tues­day

(AFP)

Real Madrid play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter win­ning the UEFA Su­per Cup in Skopje, Mace­do­nia on Tues­day

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