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United are outclassed as Madrid expose a Real gulf in quality to claim Super Cup

Man Utd 1 - Real Madrid 2

By Miguel Delaney

A narrow 2-1 win gave Real Madrid the 2017 Super Cup, but a general gulf in quality between them and Manchester United explained why the Spanish side won it and why they are European champions.

Jose Mourinho's side still look very far off this level, and look even more like they could do with a forward of, oh, maybe Gareth Bale's level.

The winger had set up the brilliant Isco's clinching goal and was supremely effective, but Real's whole attack just looked so effervescent in contrast to United's.

Three positives for United at least were a first official club goal for Romelu Lukaku, the performance of Nemanja Matic as Real really made him work, and the knowledge they won't face a side anywhere near this good in the Premier League.

That Real were not at full pelt, or putting out a full team was even more galling, even if United were missing some names themselves.

It was also selection, mind, that added one of the game's main points of intrigue.

The Super Cup may not mean that much in the context of the season, but Mourinho mischievously imbued it with a bit more significance by suggesting Real would be showing they did not need Bale if he started on the bench. Zinedine Zidane promptly started Bale, and the winger became one of the European champions' attackers who ripped into United's backline.

That they were doing it without the rested Cristiano Ronaldo made it all the more impressive, and further layered Zidane's decision.

United had started with Matic finally filling the defensive midfield role Mourinho had been so insistent on addressing in this transfer window, and that initially seemed to release his attackers - especially Paul Pogba. He twice roared forward on the break, in moves that suggested a greater zip to their forward play this season.

It didn't take too long for Real to show them that would involve much greater risk, too, and it's not usually the risk that Mourinho stands for too long either.

Bale had already nudged over from a fine chance on two minutes, before Real again exposed some slack marking with Casemiro heading against the bar.

The Brazilian has quietly become one of Real's key players, scoring in the Champions League final win over Juventus, and eventually got his goal here.

Matic and the defence were suddenly overwhelmed. On 24 minutes, right-back Dani Carvajal was allowed time to deftly loft over the ball, with Casemiro sliding in to finish.

Mourinho responded by bringing on Marcus Rashford for Jesse Lingard but, as exciting as the young forward is, United were soon reminded of the glaring gap between their attacking options and Real's and why they really need someone like Bale.

Doubts about the Welsh forward's Bernabeu future precede the pursuit of Monaco's Kylian Mbappe, but they combined here for Real's second. Isco started a quick one-two on the edge of the box, before finishing sleekly.

United went straight up the other end to fashion a chance with an old-fashioned cross, only for Pogba to head directly at Keylor Navas and then Lukaku put the parried ball yards over.

The Belgian showed that didn't get to him, as he emphatically took the next chance he got, powering the ball past Navas.

Mourinho had looked to threaten Navas by bringing on Marouane Fellaini. The fact the Portuguese so often resorts to this is another reminder of why he still needs an elevation of quality in this attack, rather such an elevation in height.

It did pin Real back, and led to United's best worked move of the game, as Mkhitaryan fed Rashford for the young forward to just shoot wide.

Zidane then brought on Ronaldo, further emphasising the gap, before Sergio Ramos lifting this trophy made it even clearer.

MAN UTD: De Gea, Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Darmian, Pogba, Matic, Herrera (Fellaini 56), Mkhitaryan, Lukaku, Lingard (Rashford 45).

Goal: Lukaku 62 Subs not used: Mata, Martial, Carrick, Blind, Romero.

REAL MADRID: Navas, Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Casemiro, Kroos, Bale (Asensio 74), Benzema (Ronaldo 83), Isco (Vazquez 74).

Goals: Casemiro 24, Isco 52

Subs not used: Nacho, Casilla, Hernández, Kovacic.

Man of the match: Casemiro

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)

 

 

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