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Madrid lays down ominous marker

China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-12 09:12
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Real Madrid players celebrate with the UEFA Super Cup after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in the showpiece game in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday. REUTERS

HELSINKI-Goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a fifth UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.

While Frankfurt was dangerous, particularly in the first half, Madrid's experience and individual quality saw it through, as it did so often in its victorious 2021-22 Champions League campaign.

"It wasn't an easy game, they were entrenched in their own half, but we managed to score and we controlled it well afterward," Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told Movistar TV.

"At the start of the season, you can't expect the team to be already at 100 percent, but we won and we have started the season well. I believe it can help us achieve better results and winning helps motivate the players."

It was a particularly memorable evening for veteran French striker Benzema whose goal took his tally to 324 for the Spanish side, one more than Raul Gonzalez.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 450, has more Madrid goals than Benzema.

"Now he's in line for the Ballon d'Or. Is there any doubt? For me, no," added Ancelotti.

Frankfurt had the best of the early stages, with Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois forced into a stunning anticipation save when one-on-one with Daichi Kamada in the 14th minute.

Madrid almost broke the deadlock, when Benzema released Vinicius Jr. to curl past Kevin Trapp in the penalty box, only for Tuta to clear the ball off the line.

With Madrid dominating possession, Frankfurt mounted several counterattacks until Madrid launched a counter of its own in the 37th minute.

A diving Trapp got his fingertips to a goal-bound shot by Vinicius, pushing the ball out for a corner.

From the ensuing play, Benzema linked with Casemiro just next to the right post.

The Brazilian sucked in several Frankfurt defenders and a diving Trapp, before heading back to an unmarked Alaba who scored from close range.

After the goal, Madrid stepped it up a gear and should have doubled the lead when Benzema uncharacteristically dragging the ball wide in the 41st minute.

Madrid's quality became more obvious in the second half, with Trapp saving a deflected Vinicius shot in the 54th minute and Casemiro hitting the crossbar with 61 minutes gone.

Borussia Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff had a chance saved just minutes later, before Vinicius and Benzema combined to put Madrid 2-0 up.

Vinicius skated down the left before slicing the ball back seemingly unsighted for the Frenchman to hammer home from the edge of the box.

Frankfurt fought hard in the closing stages but Madrid was able to dominate the game to win its fifth Super Cup from eight attempts.

'Where we left off'

Alaba praised his team's determination to continue its stellar form from last season.

"We were here to win and to collect the next title... We want to pick up where we left off last season," Alaba told RTL.

"It's always nice to score goals-it doesn't happen so often for me."

Frankfurt captain Sebastian Rode lamented his side's failure to take its opportunities.

"Against the Champions League winners you have to take your chances. We didn't take ours in the decisive moments," he told broadcaster DAZN.

The clash, played in Helsinki's Olympic Stadium, was the first time these two sides had met in a European decider since 1960. Back then, Madrid dismantled Frankfurt 7-3 through four Ferenc Puskas goals and three from another legend, Alfredo di Stefano, in the European Cup final.

The match also highlighted the growing gap between the Champions League and Europa League competitions, with Madrid being the ninth Champions League team to win the Super Cup in the past 10 years.

Only city rival Atletico Madrid has won the Super Cup when qualifying via a Europa League win in the past decade, having done so by beating Real in the 2018 edition in Tallinn, Estonia.


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