Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona will resume their Spanish Super Cup contest locked at 2-2 on Wednesday after playing out an entertaining first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu.
The hosts will feel they ought to have converted at least one of their late chances to eke out an advantage, but they ultimately had to be thankful to Xabi Alonso for restoring parity after Barcelona had looked set for victory in the capital. Indeed, David Villa and Lionel Messi turned the match on its head for the Spanish and European champions following Mesut Özil's early breakthrough.
There were few innovations in the Madrid lineup with coach José Mourinho finally opting for Ángel Di María on the right flank, which meant summer signing Fábio Coentrão began on the bench. Barcelona's new recruit Alexis Sánchez, by contrast, was given a starting berth and with Thiago Alcántara also involved from the off, the likes of Gerard Piqué, Xavi Hernández, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodríguez were left out of the first XI.
Madrid made the early running as Cristiano Ronaldo's galloping pace caused problems, and with 13 minutes gone the home side took the lead. Karim Benzema continued his excellent pre-season form by advancing down the right and picking out Özil, who buried the ball past Víctor Valdés.
Mourinho's charges continued to impress, yet Barcelona gradually began to ease their way back into the match and equalised with Lionel Messi's first real contribution, the Argentinian forward finding David Villa on the left and the Spain striker curling an exquisite shot high into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Iker Casillas was beaten again on the stroke of half-time as Messi profited from a slip by Pepe as he bore down on goal, but Madrid rediscovered their rhythm after the interval and levelled in the 53rd minute when Pepe set Alonso up to fire in following a corner. The hosts then looked to edge ahead, becoming more threatening after both Coentrão and José Callejón were introduced, but Ronaldo, Benzema and Özil all spurned opportunities to ensure another night of tension at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
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