Real Madrid 2 Roma 1: Bale, Asensio see off stubborn Giallorossi
Real Madrid eased to a 2-1 win over Roma in the International Champions Cup on Tuesday, as Los Blancos continued their encouraging progress under Julen Lopetegui.
The Champions League holders have had to adjust to life without head coach Zinedine Zidane and superstar attacker Cristiano Ronaldo as they seek to close the domestic gap to Barcelona in LaLiga during the campaign ahead.
Facing Serie A opposition at Metlife Stadium in Rutherford, Madrid picked up where they had left off in a dominant 3-1 win over Juventus last time out.
With just two minutes gone, Gareth Bale’s brilliant pass with the outside of his boot released Asensio in behind Ivan Marcano, and the attacker was left with a simple finish to beat Robin Olsen and make it 1-0.
Bale took matters into his own hands in the 15th minute, receiving a lofted pass out of defence from Dani Carvajal, cutting inside Marcano with ease and slotting past the helpless Olsen to double Madrid’s lead.
Roma responded by dropping deeper but failed to mount a consistent threat of their own, Edin Dzeko forcing a save from Keylor Navas with a long-range shot in what was one of Roma’s few first-half opportunities.
At the other end, Madrid continued to cause problems. Benzema forced a good save from Olsen with a fierce drive from just outside the area in the 36th minute. And two minutes later, Asensio had a shot blocked at close range after a flowing move down the right.
Sweeping changes from both sides, including the introduction of Justin Kluivert, helped the Giallorossi to rally in the second half.
Kevin Strootman duly pulled one back for Roma when he met Patrick Schick’s flicked header from a long throw unmarked at the back post in the 83rd minute, in what was just reward for an improved display in the second half from the Italian side, but they proved unable to force a late equaliser.
What does it mean: No Ronaldo, no problem
For the second match in succession, Madrid showed they still mean business despite selling talisman Ronaldo to Juve.
Bale and Benzema appear rejuvenated in the absence of their former partner in crime, while Asensio and Dani Ceballos look primed to become key players.
Pat on the back: Bale torments Roma rearguard
Bale in particular stole the show early in the contest, with his stylish assist releasing Asensio to open the scoring.
And the Wales international, who lashed home an eye-catching equaliser against Juve, left the unfortunate Marcano for dead to make it 2-0 in New Jersey.
Boot up the backside: Eusebio Di Francesco made to rue high line
A brave approach to big matches helped Roma stun Barca and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.
But a recklessly high defensive line early in this match played into Madrid’s hands and was ruthlessly exploited, with Marcano the unwitting sacrificial lamb.
Lopetegui’s tenure will receive its sternest examination yet when Los Blancos take on Europa League winners and local rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in Tallinn next Wednesday.
Roma are due to face Torino away from home in their opening match of the new Serie A season on August 19.