Real Madrid 2-0 Celtic
Callejon and Benzema ensure straightforward defeat for SPL champions
Goals from Jose Callejon and Karim Benzema hands the Spanish champions a final American tour victory while Dylan McGeough suffers a head injury late-on for the Scots
Real Madrid finished off their American tour in superb style with a comfortable victory over Scottish champions Celtic.
Goals from Jose Callejon and Karim Benzema helped the Spanish giants to go into the start of the league season in winning form.
The game, however, had a sour note as young Celtic winger Dylan McGeough was stretchered off late on after a nasty clash of heads with Nuri Sahin.
Celtic were forced to make a change to their line-up before the game even started, with Anthony Stokes pulling up injured in the warm-up, he was replaced in the side by defender Thomas Rogne, which meant an alteration to the Hoops style.
The Spanish champions had the first real chance after an open first quarter of an hour, as Cristiano Ronaldo raced down the left wing, before cutting back and losing defender Adam Matthews, he then crossed to the back post for Callejon, but his strike went just wide.
Ronaldo then had his own effort on goal as he raced forward, but unfortunately for the Portguese winger his strike went just wide of Lukasz Zaluska’s goal.
Next up for Real Madrid was Kaka, as they looked to open the scoring against their Scottish opponents, with the Brazilian midfielder receiving the ball on the right hand side of the penalty area, but his effort was blocked by Zaluska away from danger.
Jose Mourinho’s side eventually took the lead as Xabi Alonso played a ball towards Gonzalo Higuain. His strike was saved by Zaluska, but the rebound fell into the path of Callejon who slid the ball in from close range.
Real Madrid could have had a second, minutes later as Alonso floated in a free kick from the right wing, onto the head of Higuain, but his effort went just over the bar.
Neil Lennon’s team finally started to get into the game and were almost back on level terms as Kris Commons raced with the ball down the right wing and crossed to the back post, but before Mulgrew could get near the ball Alvaro Arbeloa got his head to it to divert for a corner.
Just before the half time whistle, the Scottish champions had their best chance of the first period, with Joe Ledley receiving the ball on the halfway line before darting forward, but his strike went over the bar.
The Spanish outfit came out for the second half with a renewed vigour and almost doubled their lead, as Alonso fired a cross in search of Sergio Ramos, but the ball went beyond the defender and out for a goal kick.
Mourinho's side continued to pepper the Celtic goal, as Ronaldo dashed in from the left wing, and crossed in search of substitute Benzema, but before the French striker could tap the ball home, Kelvin Wilson stuck out a leg to deflect the ball clear.
The one way traffic continued with Mesut Ozil crossing from the left wing for Esteban Granero on the edge of the area, but his shot went well over the bar.
Midway through the second half Real Madrid finally got their second as Ozil found Benzema free on the left wing, the striker then raced in on goal and drove the ball through Matthews legs and beyond Zaluska’s outstretched arms.
Angel di Maria nearly added to his side’s lead after a superb move involving him and Benzema, before he had a strike from the left hand side of the penalty area which was deflected away for a corner kick.
Celtic were then handed a huge blow as McGeouch suffered a large clash of heads with Sahin which left the 19-year-old winger crumpled on the ground.
The Celtic medical staff was quick off the mark to help the youngster, along with their Real Madrid counterparts, as McGeouch received the care and attention he needed before being stretchered off the park.
Real Madrid continued to push forward for the reminder of the game, with Benzema once again finding Di Maria, but his strike went wide of Zaluska’s left hand post and out for a goal kick.
The game then petered out with both sides comfortable with the final score as they finish their pre-season campaigns.
Xabi Alonso: “We're ready for the start of the season”
“We always want to win, but the aim of this preparation was to get into a good space and we've achieved this”, said the Whites midfielder.
Real Madrid concluded their American tour with their fourth victory against Celtic in the four matches that they have played. Xabi Alonso took stock of the good pre-season that the team has carried out. “We always want to win, but the aim of this preparation was to get into a good space and we've achieved this. In addition, the results have been very good. We're ready for the start of the season and we want to do it in the best possible way”, said the midfielder.
Alonso considered it very positive that this is the third campaign that they embark on with the same coaching staff and that the footballers know the team's playing style very well,“There's a little way to go, but the base is there and the pieces have come together. It's been a short pre-season because we haven't had much time and now we're heading off with the national team and we'll be away for a few days, but we're used to it. It isn't anything new and we hope to start the year well. Many things are already prepared and it's a step forward”.
The team has achieved great results and all the players rise to the challenge when they hit the pitch, something that the Real Madrid midfielder knows will be key to accomplish the aims of the season,“It's a good sign because we have a good foundation and everything that comes after will be improvements. “What's important is that everything that is in the squad right now will serve for what we face during the season”.
In relation to first match of la Liga and the Spanish Super Cup match against Barcelona, Alonso was clear,“We have to be ready because they are matches that require you to give 100% and we have to be in peak form right from the start. We can't think that it's going to be easy. They are both important matches. We know that all Liga matches are very important and the first more so. In addition, the Spanish Super Cup is the first title and we want to win it. We prioritise both. Neither is more important than the other. The Spanish Super Cup is important because you're playing for a title, but I don't think it offers any advantage for the future”.Lastly, he spoke of the tour's other highlights. “I've played everything. I really like sports. I've had a really good time here playing baseball and American football”.
Mourinho: "We're going to fight for each match and each title with all our might"
"We want to want to win titles again and return to Cibeles, which is the best end to a season you can have", said Real Madrid's coach.
José Mourinho faces his third season leading Real Madrid. He does it "excited after two years in which this team has gone from strength to strength and has always won a title". One day shy of concluding the American tour, the White's coach reflected on the pre-season and analysed the campaign about to commence with the first fixture of la Liga against Valencia August 19 in the Santiago Bernabéu. "We're going to fight for each match and each title with all our might. You can't promise more because there are factors that you can't control. This sport is and always will be a game and games are unpredictable. I like reducing this uncertainty to an absolute minimum and having Real Madrid win many more times than not. We want to want to win titles again and return to Cibeles, which is the best end to a season you can have".
What's your assessment of Real Madrid's tour in the United States?
It hasn't finished yet, but it's going well. We worked hard and well in the first period and later the games have turned out how we wanted them to. The first fixture was against an American team that was more worried about playing well and allowing good play. The next match was more complicated, more competitive and intense, against a Mexican team. Later, we played a top level European team in a stadium that we new would bring motivation on the one hand and responsibility on the other. It was good for us and now we're going to finish by playing a team with a completely different profile that plays a British style of football. We're playing well, once again putting together the pieces of a machine that was already working well and trying to step up our intensity and confidence. We're preparing ourselves as best as possible to start well.
Many players have pointed out that this team is well established and that two years of work are paying off. Is this team really so united?
It helps when people know each other and get on well together. The players might have been together for a long time but if there's no empathy and pleasure in working together you have a bigger problem than when you're putting together a group. We all get along well, we know each other well both on a personal level and in terms of football. They know the way I work and my ideas and I know them, their great qualities and the small problems that always exist. We're excited about our third year after two in which we've gone from strength to strength and have always won a title. Last year's was more important than the one the year before. That's where we are and it's a shame that the national teams are leaving us in a complicated situation next week before the championship begins. That's the calendar. We knew about it months ago and we've tried to organise the pre-season in a balanced way so that the players can start, perhaps not all-out, but well.
Much has been said about the goal-fest against Milan and the play deployed by your team. Did José Mourinho expect Real Madrid to respond in this way at this stage in the preparation?
We played well. We won the match and I think that for the players the stadium was an additional motivating factor. The stadium was packed with fans and people that feel a special connection to the team because they don't live in Spain. Another motivating factor was the reputation of our rivals and we played all-out and prepared really well. The result is rewarding but not essential. What's essential is that we play well and we did it at a level at which we played many times last season. They are small factors that add to the confidence this team already has.
In the game against Milan, were we seeing the Real Madrid of Mourinho's third year?
I don't know. We played the first half well against a very closed team that came on with very defensive play and many players at the back. It made us think about our play. That's going to happen to us a lot with teams that are going to lock down against us. When we scored the second goal in the second half and they wanted to attack, the game profile changed. They played more offensively, leaving a lot of space for our transitions. It was a rich game in a tactical sense to train us.
There are many people that wonder why you enjoy coming to the United States so much for the pre-season. In New York, in the Yankee Stadium, we saw many reasons to do it...
The people that ask me that only do so once. The president asked me and after coming he's never asked me again. This time he came with us and we've loved having him. He's not going to ask me again why I want to come because he's going to enjoy coming back himself. With the exception of Philadelphia, where we knew what the temperature would be like, the climate is perfect for working. The organisation is perfect, the matches are good, the stadiums and the fans motivational. We promote Real Madrid in an important market, we promote football in a country where it isn't the top sport. I also think it's good for the club economically... It's also perfect for the players on the Spanish national team because they're going to stay and head from here to Costa Rica, which is much closer than if they had to return to Europe and it saves them some hours of travel. It's perfect for everyone and it's a great experience. I've been doing it for seven years and I want to continue because I like it a lot. Whoever comes never asks again.
They also like you a lot here. In the Yankee Stadium we saw a banner where they proposed you for president of the United States...
It must have been a friend of mine doing propaganda.
Real Madrid rest until Wednesday afternoon
Flying back to Madrid
Real Madrid has successfully completed its pre-season commitments after winning the four matches they played in their tour of the United States. After flying to the capital from Philadelphia in the early hours of Sunday, Real Madrid will rest until Wednesday afternoon, which is when they go back to work in Valdebebas. José Mourinho will lead a training session at 18:00, which will be behind closed doors.