Saturday, August 11, 2012

Real Madrid tops Celtic FC at the Linc


By John McMullen
jmcmullen@phanaticmag.com

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The final leg of the 2012 World Football Challenge invaded Lincoln Financial Field Saturday as Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid upended Scottish Premier League side Celtic FC, 2-0, in front of 34,018.

Possessing two of the most famous players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka, Real Madrid's skill level was something to see even in a friendly format.

Jose Marie Callejon and Karim Benzemja both scored for the Whites, who also topped the MLS' LA Galaxy, Santos Laguna of Mexico and A.C. Milan on the tour, outscoring their opposition by a gaudy 14-3 margin.

“We came to the U.S. to do the work that we wanted to do," Real Madrid team manager jose Mourinho said. "We’ve had great trainings and no serious injuries, and this is a week that on Thursday we get back together and we’re ready. We think that we are going to be in good shape because this is a year that in which we have a lot of pressure and expectations."

Ronaldo ignited the crowd early with a violent strike, which hit the side netting, just wide of Celtic goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska.

Real Madrid grabbed the advantage in the 22nd minute when Gonzalo Higuain went between the legs of a Celtic defender and found Callejon, who tapped it into an open net.

The Hoops best chance in the game was right before intermission when Joe Ledley unleashed a try which went just over the crossbar.

Benzemja settled it in the 67th minute, using some fancy footwork before sending the ball past Zaluska's outstretched foot inside the far post.

“I faced several shots and unfortunately we lost," said Zaluska. "Losing this game against Real Madrid, we cant be ashamed of, they are a fantastic team.”

Things got worse for Celts the 73rd when Dylan McGeouch was knocked cold was going for a header in the middle of the field. McGeouch received treatment on the pitch and was eventually taken off on a stretcher, although he did regain consciousness and was able to love his arms and legs.

“He’s on the way to the hospital now," Celtic team manager Neil Lennon said. "It’s just one of those things. Good ol’ football injuries. For a young player, he was fantastic in the first half… Fingers crossed that he can make a quick recovery.”

Real Madrid dominated throughout, finishing with 17 shots, seven finding the mark, to just four for Celtic, none which made it to goalkeeper Antonio Adan.  Meanwhile, the Whites dominated possession, holding it 62.8 percent of the time and connecting on 89.1 percent of their 532 passes.

”We played pretty well, and most of the balls that we were setting were completed," Real Madrid MF Xabi Alonso said. "Because of that, we were quite pleased. We’ve had very good fan support in every city that we have gone to, and that is very important for the club.”

Notes:

* This year was the final match of the third World Football Challenge event.

*Real Madrid topped the LA Galaxy, 5-1, at the Home Depot Center on Aug. 2, beat Santos Laguna, 2-1, in Las Vegas on Aug. 5 and routed A.C. Milan, 5-1, at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

*This was the only match Celtic played in this year's challenge.
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