MADRID – Real Madrid returned to its home stadium after 91 days to contest the 39th Santiago Bernabeu Trophy, in what was the first match on its home turf since Cristiano Ronaldo left the team.
The result was a satisfying 3-1 win over Milan, with Gareth Bale and Benzema handily taking over from the departed star.
Real Madrid struck first. A fine play by Bale avoiding Ricardo Rodriguez down the right got the ball to Karim Benzema, who knocked it into the net to make the score 1-0 at just 1:30 minutes into the game.
But the joy was short-lived as Milan’s Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, a recent acquisition from Juventus, tied it up 1-1 with a powerful shot from outside the box just two minutes later in what was his debut with Milan.
After such a strong beginning, the game’s rhythm slowed down with Real Madrid largely maintaining possession of the ball.
But the match was also a test for the strikers following the loss of Cristiano’s departure to Juventus. Bale was the player who made the most attempts at goal and was rewarded at minute 46 when he seized the opportunity of a loose ball in the area, showing his scoring instinct and breaking the tie 2-1.
The second half was a scene of constant changes on both sides, but for 75 minutes the Real Madrid coach kept the attack trio of Asensio, Benzema and Bale, who presumably will still stick together for the UEFA Super Cup final against Atletico Madrid next Wednesday.
Real Madrid, renovated by the acquisition of a number of young players, looked like running away with the game, though it was not until minute 91 when Borja Mayoral controlled Donnarumma’s save of a shot by Luka Modric to make the final score 3-1.