Real Madrid won this year’s UEFA Super Cup by beating Manchester United by two-goals-to-one inside Gradski Stadion in Macedonia .The exciting match which was played in a very sweltering weather prompted two re-hydration breaks in both halves of the match.
The first half of the match was dominated by Real Madrid, who had more ball possession and scoring opportunities. Manchester United showed great defensive organization as they fell back to defend against their Spanish opponent in their own half of the pitch.
Gareth Bale almost put his side ahead in the second minute of the game when his flick of Marcelo’s cross inside the opponent’s eighteen yard box missed the goalpost narrowly as the ball flew over the crossbar. Though Manchester United’s man-to-man marking prevented Madrid from making inroads into the eighteen yard box for a long time in the first half, but it came at a huge cost: it stifled creative play from their mid-field, leaving Romelu Lukaku upfront where he was grossly starved of passes.
United were extremely lucky not to concede a goal from Casemiro’s header inside their penalty box. A Marcelo’s free kick found the unmarked Casemiro but his well-aimed header was deflected out of play by the crossbar.
The excellent dribbling of Isco was drawing so many fouls from United’s defenders. The attacking mid-fielder was able to attack United through tight channels that a player of higher stature would have found impossible to move through.
In the twenty third minute of the game, Casemiro swept into the net a ball that was passed to him by Daniel Carvajal from outside the eighteen yard box. The defensive mid-fielder was able to beat United’s off-side trap as he raced towards the ball inside the opponent’s penalty box.
After scoring their first goal, Madrid switched to a passing game that denied United’s players a feel of the ball for a relatively long period.
Nemanja Matic was lucky not to have given away a penalty kick to Madrid when he pulled down Luca Modric who had dribbled the ball into United’s penalty box; the ball that slipped from Modric as he went down under Matic challenge was shot towards the goalpost by Karim Benzema, but David De Gea made a routine save of the French man’s effort.
Manchester United caused a little scare in their opponent’s half when Antonio Valencia was able to send few crosses into Madrid’s eighteen yard box from the right flank due to the absence of Bale who had moved to the opposite flank.
Real Madrid were still the dominant side in the opening ten minutes of the second half, although United became increasingly dangerous as they switched to long balls that allowed their tall players to attack Madrid’s eighteen yard box with their aerial prowess.
The introduction of Marcus Rashford added more bite to United’s attack; his pace, trickery and dangerous crosses from the left flank created problems from Carvajah, who was unable to contain the dashing young man as he attacked Madrid with great success from that position.
An excellent combination between Isco and Gareth Bale at the tip of the opponent’s penalty box allowed Isco to race into the penalty box where he beat De Gea with his low curling shot.
Manchester United had a good chance to equalize in the fifty third minute through Paul Pogba; Ander Herrera’s pass located the French mid-fielder inside the opponent’s penalty box, but his powerful header was spilled by Keylor Navas right in front of Lukaku whose final shot flew over the crossbar.
When it dawned on Mourinho that his side could not get back into the game with the ball being played on the ground, he switched his formation and brought in Maroaune Fellaini and United at that moment started to loft passes to the players inside Madrid’s eighteen yard box.
In spite of United’s switch to the use of long ball, Madrid were still very dangerous from counter-attacks. Bale wasted a chance to score for his side when his shot inside United’s penalty box hit the crossbar and re-entered the pitch.
As the game went into the middle of the second half, United started winning several free kicks inside their opponent’s half of the pitch. Marcus Rashford failed to beat Navas in a one-on-one situation that Henrik Mkhitaryan had set up for him inside Madrid’s penalty box.
Manchester United scored their goal in the sixty second minute of the match when Lukaku smashed into the net the re-bound of Matic’s thunderous shot which Navas had spilled in front of him.
De Gea made a brilliant save of Marco Arsensio’s shot inside the eighteen yard box. Lucas Vasquez had dribbled into United’s penalty box and sent a reverse pass to an unmarked Arsensio, who shot the ball directly at De Gea.
Real Madrid held on their one-goal lead till the end of the match. At the end of the encounter it was evident that the more superior side had won this year edition of the UEFA Super Cup.