Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid beat Sevilla 2-0 in Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup showdown in Cardiff.
The two-time Ballon d’Or winner opened the scoring on the half-hour mark with a one-touch finish at the far post and beat countryman Beto with a left-footed shot from the goalkeeper’s right just four minutes after the restart.
The match, which was played at Cardiff City Stadium, also featured the competitive debuts of Madrid pair James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos and Sevilla midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Not surprisingly, it was Madrid who went on the front foot from the opening kick-off.
Only four minutes had ticked off the clock by the time Ronaldo had first tested Beto, and by the end of the first quarter-hour, the European champions had earned a succession of corner-kicks from a spell of sustained pressure.
Gareth Bale—a Cardiff native—looked particularly energetic in the early stages of the contest, and after switching to the left-hand side of the pitch, he set up what proved to be the Super Cup-winning goal.
Having accepted the ball from James, the Wales international delivered an arcing cross to the far corner that Ronaldo turned into goal with his outstretched right foot. Only minutes before, the Portugal captain had once again forced Beto into a save, but on this occasion there was no denying him.
Sevilla, however, responded brightly and quite nearly potted an equaliser in the 34th minute after Denis Suarez pounced on James’ misplaced clearance.
The Europa League champions would end up ruing the miss as Ronaldo put Madrid 2-0 up in the 49th minute.
This time Karim Benzema played provider, laying the ball off to Ronaldo following an accurate pass from Kroos. Ronaldo hardly needed inviting to shoot, and after skipping through a pair of defenders, the ball beat Beto to the far corner of the goal.
By this point, Madrid were using the expanse of the pitch, and Kroos, more often than not, was the man distributing the ball with accuracy and efficiency.
Shortly after the hour-mark, Benzema had a sublime opportunity to open his account, but after doing ever so well to control the ball behind his back with his right foot, he was unable to get enough power on his final effort to beat Beto.
James, who showed some rust despite impressing in bursts, quite nearly scored his first goal with 22 minutes remaining, but Beto stopped his drilled shot from in close. After sustaining some late pressure in the defensive third, Real Madrid closed out the match and lifted the Super Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid: A
The reigning Ballon d’Or winner got off the mark with a brace to begin his 2014-15 campaign and took a standard six shots over the 90 minutes in Cardiff.
He also won all of his aerial battles (all statistics courtesy WhoScored.com) and generally had the look of a player in midseason form.
Grzegorz Krychowiak, Sevilla: B+
Acquired from Reims and handed the near-impossible task of replacing the departed Ivan Rakitic, Grzegorz Krychowiak hit the ground running in his competitive debut for Sevilla.
Not only did he complete nearly 90 percent of his passes, but the 24-year-old also provided a necessary shield in front of the Sevilla defense and executed a perfectly timed challenge on Ronaldo in the dying stages of Tuesday’s match.
|Real Madrid Player Grades|
|Sevilla Player Grades|
Real Madrid have nearly two weeks until their 2014-15 Primera Division curtain-raiser against promoted Cordoba and will face Fiorentina in a friendly on Saturday in Warsaw.
Goalkeeper Keylor Navas—acquired from Levante following the World Cup—could well feature in that match, after which the Champions League winners will contest the Supercopa de Espana against local rivals Atletico Madrid.
Sevilla, meanwhile, will face Italian outfit Sampdoria in a friendly match on Friday and will kick off their domestic campaign on August 23 at home to Valencia.