Real Madrid ran rings around the LA Galaxy tonight in Phoenix, but a host of missed chances meant the scoreline was tighter than it should’ve been. In the end, Real won 3-1 to advance to a meeting Saturday with Everton at Dodger Stadium in the International Champions Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the fulcrum tonight in the first half for Los Merengues as he poked and prodded at a Galaxy back line that had few answers for Real’s passing. With Isco steering the center of the field and Angel di Maria playing on the opposite wing, Brian Rowe faced a shooting gallery for much of the night.
The Galaxy were missing several key players: Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan were out after appearing in the Gold Cup and Robbie Keane has been recovering from a hip injury. Nonetheless, they seemed a step slower all night against a Madrid side that rarely took it out of second gear. It wasn’t until the second half – and after making seven subs – that LA looked able to keep up with the Spanish giants.
Di Maria got Real on the board after only 15 minutes, finishing off an exquisite move that began when Isco flung the ball right through the Galaxy’s back line to Ronaldo. Ronaldo took a touch, tapped it up to Di Maria, who finished smoothly past Rowe. It was a brilliant start, a fine goal – and it seemed to kill the game. Real became all too casual in front of the net, with Ronaldo hitting the woodwork and grazing the outside of both posts.
Real removed Ronaldo at the start of the second half, swapping him for Karim Benzema, and the move paid immediate dividends. Isco found the French star with a sweeping cross from the left flank that flew over Todd Dunivant and dropped right onto the striker’s laces. Benzema settled and fired and that seemed to be the game right there.
Jose Villarreal pulled one back after the hour mark – and a slew of subs for both teams – when Denis Cheryshev cleared a ball right to the young forward at the top of the area. Villarreal stepped left, and fired past a startled Diego Lopez.
But Benzema would seal the deal on a counter, with young star Alvaro Morata starting the play by finding Di Maria alone on the flank. Di Maria centered to Benzema, who headed the ball crisply across Rowe and three Galaxy defenders to settle the game.
LA moves on to play Juventus in the loser’s bracket; that game is also at Dodger Stadium Saturday. The Galaxy can finish no higher than fifth in the tournament.