Esteban Cambiasso impressed as Real Madrid CF won the UEFA Super Cup against Feyenoord.
No wonder the Real Madrid CF players were beaming after the match. Playing for a side with such a rich history does not afford many chances to be a pioneer. But in defeating Feyenoord 3-1 in Monaco, this Madrid team became the first from the club to win the UEFA Super Cup.
Indeed it was a Super Cup of firsts. A first right-footed goal in recent memory for Roberto Carlos and a first start in Madrid colours for young Argentinian Esteban Cambiasso kept that theme alive, as the nine-times European champions became the first UEFA Champions League holders to win the competition since it moved to its current venue, Monaco, and place in the European football calendar in 1998. Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque said: "It is the first Super Cup that we have won and it is a great coup for the team."
Roberto Carlos has probably scored with his right foot before, but the manner in which he claimed Madrid's second goal with an exquisite curler was a supreme riposte to those critics who would contend that the player selected by UEFA yesterday as last season's best defender is overly left-sided. "I scored for Internazionale once with my right from outside the box, but the one tonight was better, " the official man of the match told uefa.com after the game.
'I fooled him'
"What I loved was the goalkeeper thought I was going to shoot with my left, but I really fooled him and scored with my right instep." The Brazilian's statement that "if we go on as well as we've started, I'm sure we will a few more titles this season" is sure to send a chill down spines across Europe.
Panic in defence
The Brazilian's exquisite effort gave a sumptuous move that he started the goal it deserved, with his fellow South American Cambiasso a key figure in the build-up. The shaven-headed schemer had earlier set up the opener when he picked up possession 25 metres out and pinged a precise pass behind the full-back for Roberto Carlos. His subsequent cutback caused panic in the Feyenoord defence, so much so that Patrick Paauwe diverted the ball into his own goal.
Cambiasso has been a Madrid player since he was signed as a 16-year-old in 1996, but he has spent the last three seasons on loan in his native Argentina. His displays for CA Independiente and, more recently, CA River Plate persuaded the European champions to take him back. Del Bosque explained the move: "We decided to field him after watching him in action in Argentina. I am very happy with him and he is a great hope for the future."
The youngster's elevation to the first team for Madrid's first competitive match of the season is ample evidence that Vicente del Bosque sees him as a central figure in his second spell at the Santiago Bernebéu. It is not that the he is short of options in midfield, with Steve McManaman of England, Brazil's Flavio Conceição, Santiago Solari of Argentina, and new Spanish international Raúl Bravo all on the bench.
Cambiasso certainly vindicated his selection, with a highly mobile midfield performance that was complemented by some superb passing. Of course, having Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo alongside made things easier. That duo were making their return to competitive action after a FIFA World Cup both will want to forget.
Both were eager to impress. Figo produced two dazzling solo runs in the first half, while Zidane was in imperious form. Drag-backs and dummies, shimmies and swerves, flicks and feints; the party pieces were all on show. Not that the real work was overlooked, with Madrid looking menacing whenever he was on the ball. The Frenchman combined with Cambiasso in starting the move that produced Madrid's third goal after Feyenoord had briefly threatened to spoil the fiesta. Zidane's pass released Figo and his measured cross was headed in at the far post by Guti.
Feyenoord played their part in an entertaining encounter, with Pierre van Hooijdonk's goal further proof that there are few finer free-kick takers in the game. The first half was largely forgettable for the Dutch side, with a sprinkling of half-chances all they could muster. The Rotterdam side rallied impressively in the second, but their putative fightback was brought to an end by Guti's goal, which was the signal for more Madrid attacking.
'Perhaps the best'
Feyenoord coach Bert van Marwijk conceded: "We had to play one of the best teams in the world tonight, if not the best. There was a certain amount of respect, perhaps too much."