Showing why they are one of the best soccer teams in the world, Real Madrid put on a clinic Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in the first round of the International Champions Cup.
Forward Karim Benzema scored two goals and midfielder Angel Di Maria scored a goal and had an assist as Real Madrid cruised to a 3-1 victory in front of 38,922.
“We came out to put on a show, but wanted to play good soccer,” said Real Madrid's Di Maria. “It was a great atmosphere and we came away with a big win.”
Cristiano Ronaldo took pass in front to the left of the Galaxy goal, where three defenders rallied around him, but he tipped a pass in front to Di Maria, who took the ball and tipped it to the right past Galaxy goaltender Brian Rowe for the first goal of the game.
“In general it was a good performance from the team,” Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “We played well. We had a good combination in the front. We had a lot of opportunities.”
Real Madrid dominated the first half with numerous scoring opportunities even though they only scored once. Ronaldo had a scoring chance early when, just six minutes into the game, took a pass in front and headed the ball that hit the crossbar.
Ronaldo had numerous scoring chances but was stopped with some great defensive plays by Galaxy defender Sean Franklin, who slowed Ronaldo down late in the first half.
“Sean would probably tell you it was unbelievably challenging,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Ronaldo had all the attributes you'd want out of a player,” Arena said. “Technically outstanding. He's obviously a great goal scorer. Great passing. Great on the dribble. Physically dominant. He has all the tools to continue to be one of the outstanding players in the world and we saw a little bit of that tonight.”
Twenty-two minutes into the first half, Ronaldo took a pass on the right side of the net and fired a quick shot that was grabbed out of the air by goalie Brian Rowe.
Five minutes into the second half, Real Madrid's Isco took a pass down the sideline and fired a pass across the field, where Karim Benzema took the ball, dribbled 10 feet and fired a shot past Rowe into the back of the net.
“The atmosphere was really fantastic and the stadium was one of the best in the world,” Ancelotti said. “We will have a good memory of the experience in the future.”
After falling behind early in the second half, the Galaxy turned it on late and tried to make a run.
The Galaxy got on the board 18 minutes into the second half when a Real Madrid defender tried to clear the ball out of their goal area with a header. Jose Villareal took the ball at the top of the goal box, dribbled to his left and fired a shot to the right, just past a diving save attempt by Real Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez into the corner of the net.
Real Madrid put the game away late when Di Maria took the ball down the sideline and cut inside, where he fired a high pass to the opposite side. There, Benzema leapt up and headed the ball past three Galaxy defenders and Rowe into the back of the net, putting Real Madrid up 3-1 with 15 minutes left in the game.
With the victory, Real Madrid advances to the quarterfinals against Everton 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Galaxy will play 5 p.m. in a consultation match against Juventus the same day.
“No question this game was beneficial for all of our players,” Arena said. “I think it's a great event to bring to our country and to have the opportunity to play against players like Ronaldo and Di Maria and Benzema. They are unbelievable players – we are going to have some fabulous opportunities in this tournament.”
For more pictures from the game, see attached gallery.