Atletico Madrid earned a slender advantage in the Supercopa de Espana on Tuesday night, drawing with city rivals Real 1-1 at the Bernabeu in the first leg.
With the clash at the Vicente Calderon to come, Diego Simeone’s men will be full of confidence that they can lift the Supercopa. But they rode their luck at times on the night, with James Rodriguez’s late strike looking like earning Los Blancos a priceless victory.
In a game of few chances, it was the Colombian sensation that made the breakthrough, finding the net in the 80th minute to put Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the driving seat. Raul Garcia had the last laugh, however, seven minutes later.
Scoring on your Bernabeu debut is something that every player dreams of, and when Rodriguez was sent on as a half-time substitute for Cristiano Ronaldo, per Sky Sports Football, that always looked like happening:
James Rodriguez has come on to replace Ronaldo at half-time. It's Real Madrid 0 - 0 Atletico Madrid. Sky Sports 5. pic.twitter.com/W1ietyGBEe— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) August 19, 2014
Has there ever been such a high-profile substitute in the history of the game? Not that CBS’ Bryan Fischer can remember:
Replacing Cristiano Ronaldo with James Rodriguez is simply unfair in the soccer world.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) August 19, 2014
The 23-year-old was nothing short of phenomenal for Colombia during the World Cup in Brazil, and he certainly proved that such performances weren’t a one-off with a dynamic display at the Bernabeu.
The former Monaco man was doing all in his power to carve out a chance for his teammates as the minutes ticked by in the first leg, but it was Rodriguez himself that was in the right place at the right time to give Real the lead.
With 10 minutes remaining on the clock, the ball found its way to Rodriguez’s feet eight yards out after a scramble involving Karim Benzema, and he made no mistake from there—as Bleacher Report UK’s video shows:
Real Madrid’s phenom James Rodriguez has opened his goalscoring account for the club: https://t.co/yx2xDnizNE— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) August 19, 2014
The euphoria both from Rodriguez and around the Bernabeu was truly a sight to behold, yet SB Nation’s Ryan Rosenblatt wasn’t satisfied with the lack of a Colombian jig in the star’s celebration:
James Rodriguez loses 25 points for not dancing after that goal, but gets 100 points for being wonderful.— Ryan Rosenblatt (@RyanRosenblatt) August 19, 2014
However, the goal was enough to give Rodriguez the perfect keepsake from his debut in front of a packed Bernabeu, as OptaJoe revealed:
1 - James Rodríguez has scored his first goal for Real Madrid in his first game at the Santiago Bernabeu. Stardust.— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 19, 2014
His joy was short-lived, though, as Atletico drew level through Garcia’s strike, leading sports journalist James Poling to reflect on the difference in price and stature in the world game of the two goalscorers:
Who needs James Rodriguez when you have Raul Garcia! #Atleti— James Poling (@James_Poling) August 19, 2014
While Rodriguez comes to Real with a lot to learn, the early signs are incredibly encouraging.
It’ll take a big performance from Ancelotti’s men to see off Atletico in the second leg on Friday, but if they can get their Colombian superstar firing on all cylinders once again, then the Supercopa may well be heading back to the Bernabeu.