In the first soccer match at historic Dodger Stadium, Real Madrid used two first-half goals to down Everton at the 2013 International Champions Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil each had goals to give Los Blancos a decisive first-half lead. Although Everton returned serve with a Nikica Jelavic goal to cut the deficit in half, Madrid did enough down the stretch to pick up the 2-1 victory.
The Spanish side punched its ticket to the inaugural ICC final in Miami with the win.
Fox Soccer Trax had the tweet as the score became final:
It's all over! Real Madrid beat Everton 2-1 and book their spot in the International Champions Cup final. They'll face Chelsea or AC Milan.— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) August 4, 2013
The Associated Press' Greg Beacham had this post on Twitter as the match got underway in Los Angeles:
Real & Everton are underway in 51-year-old Dodger Stadium's first soccer match. Crowd behind Galácticos. pic.twitter.com/wrhHmX8mcf— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) August 4, 2013
Madrid, coming off of a smooth win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in their opening ICC match, were the aggressors early against Everton on Saturday.
In the middle of that aggression was Cristiano Ronaldo, who put the Spanish side on the board with a nifty finish in the 16th minute.
As noted by the tournament's official Twitter account, it was the first goal ever scored in Dodger Stadium:
Everton were noticeably more aggressive after Ronaldo opened the scoring. The Premier League side had two great chances to score on headers from Marouane Fellaini and Sylvain Distin, but neither player could capitalize on a chance to equalize.
Fellaini's header off a brilliant pass hit the post, and Distin's goal was disallowed by the referee after it was ruled he gained an unfair advantage in the box before heading the ball in the net.
It didn't take long for Madrid to strike again.
A beautiful through ball from Luka Modric allowed Ronaldo to gain an advantage on Everton keeper Tim Howard. Ozil ran with the Portuguese star and was rewarded when Ronaldo recorded his second assist of the tournament and helped his side earn an early 2-0 lead.
Former Everton man Gary Lineker wasn't happy with the turn of events on the pitch:
Ozil makes it 2-0 just seconds after Distin had a perfectly good goal disallowed.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 4, 2013
Regardless, Everton was in a deep hole against Madrid with just over a third of the match in the books. They couldn't cut into the deficit before the first-half whistle sounded and would open up the second half by making some lineup changes.
One such change was putting Jelavic in the match.
The striker didn't make the first squad for the preseason match, but he played like a man looking to change that as Everton prepares for the upcoming season. He just missed a chance to score outside of 50 minutes, but he found the net in the 61st minute to give the Toffees a glimmer of hope.
Everton's Twitter account chronicled the score:
GOAL! Jelavic's snapshot beats Lopez and Everton have pulled a goal back. 2-1 to Madrid.— Official Everton (@Everton) August 4, 2013
Fox Soccer Trax had a second look at the goal on Twitter:
Check out Jelavic's goal from earlier. VIDEO: http://t.co/FjFMHvlD8S— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) August 4, 2013
As both managers replaced their starters later in the match, neither side was able to break through again. Howard had a strong second half in keeping Madrid out of the net, thwarting several chances with various parts of his body.
Who was the man of the match?
The Toffees had a couple of late chances to push the pace with their younger players, but time ran out and Madrid escaped with a chance to win the International Champions Cup during the first year of its existence.
The "preseason" label showed down the stretch of this match, but the first-half action was more representative of what to expect from both clubs in the upcoming season.
|Madrid Player||Grade||Everton Player||Grade|
|Iker Casillas||C+||Tim Howard||B+|
|Alvaro Arbeloa||B-||Seamus Coleman||B|
|Sergio Ramos||C||Phil Jagielka||B+|
|Sami Khedira||B||Leon Osman||B|
|Luka Modric||B+||John Heitinga||B+|
|Mesut Ozil||A-||Steven Naismith||B|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||A||Kevin Mirallas||B-|
|Karim Benzema||B-||Arouna Kone||C+|
|Diego Lopez||B||Nikica Jelavic||A|
|Angel Di Maria||B+||Darron Gibson||C-|
|Fabio Coentrao||C||John Stones||C|
|Daniel Carvajal||B||Bryan Oviedo||C|
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid: A
If you had your choice of one player to start a team with, who would it be?
Ronaldo might not have scored a goal against the L.A. Galaxy, but he wasted no time in getting one against Everton.
Aggressive on the attack from the opening whistle on, Ronaldo was involved in both of Madrid's first-half goals. One of the top three players on the planet, CR7 gave fans in the United States a treat by bringing his best game to Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.
Tim Howard, Everton: B+
U.S. fans get a chance to see Howard in the net each time he suits up for the men's national team, but those same fans were likely glad to see their keeper put on a strong performance for his club side on Saturday night.
Howard ended up making a mistake by leaving the net and approaching Ronaldo on the first goal of the game, but there was nothing he could really do against a two-on-zero attack as Ozil gave Los Blancos a 2-0 lead.
He made several saves in the second half to keep Everton in the match, but the offense couldn't find a late equalizer. Even with the two goals allowed, Howard gave the Toffees a strong performance.
The English club might have lost its chance at the International Champions Cup title, but it still has one match to play. The Toffeemen will await the loser of AC Milan and Chelsea.
Real Madrid will face the winner of that match in the ICC final.
Everton's first Premier League match will be on Aug. 17 against Norwich City. Real Madrid's first La Liga match will be against Real Betis on Aug. 18.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.