Real Madrid CF 3-1 Feyenoord Madrid win their first UEFA Super Cup in style.
Real Madrid CF 3-1 Feyenoord
Real Madrid CF, the most successful club in Europe, won the only trophy to have eluded them tonight after laying to rest the ghosts of two previous UEFA Super Cup defeats with a majestic display in Monaco which left Feyenoord to ponder the measure of the task facing them in their impending UEFA Champions League campaign.
In a team boasting the world's two costliest players, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo, it was the unlikely figure of Esteban Cambiasso, a 22-year-old Argentinian midfield player who has spent the last three seasons on loan in his homeland, who proved Feyenoord's nemesis with a sizzling display on his European debut.
The little-known South American probed and teased the Rotterdam outfit at the Stade Louis II. Two outstanding pieces of skill, a measured chipped pass and clever one-two, created Madrid's first-half strikes, a Patrick Paauwe own goal and a memorable Roberto Carlos finish - not least because it came courtesy of his right foot. Pierre van Hooijdonk raised hopes of a Feyenoord comeback with a trademark free-kick but Madrid soon regained their two-goal advantage, Guti heading their third on the hour.
Task beyond Dutch
Feynoord coach Bert van Marwijk kept faith with the side which has served him so well in four unbeaten outings this season - including the 2-0 win at Fenerbahçe SK on Tuesday which secured their return to the Champions League - but the task of derailing the Madrid juggernaut proved too great.
Cambiasso, keen to make an impression, saw much of the ball early on, but it was Feyenoord's Australian winger Brett Emerton who almost created the first chance of the match in the third minute, except his coruscating run into the area was snuffed out by Iker Casillas. From the resulting attack, Zidane saw a shot from distance smothered by Edwin Zoetebier.
Zoetebier kept busy
The frenetic early exchanges saw more openings created: Bonaventure Kalou heading narrowly over for the Rotterdam outfit, Figo and Cambiasso, who had fashioned the opening himself, forcing saves from Zoetebier. It was not long, though, before the Feyenoord custodian was beaten, albeit by one of his own defenders.
Cambiasso, shaven-headed and busy, collected the ball 25 metres from goal in the 15th minute following a sweeping move involving Zidane, Guti, Figo and Michel Salgado, before composing himself and delicately chipping in Roberto Carlos. In space behind the Feyenoord back-line, the Brazilian drilled in a low centre that Paauwe turned into his own net.
Six minutes later the irrepressible Cambiasso was the architect of a quite superb goal from the man of the match, Roberto Carlos. Cambiasso played a one-two on the left flank before eluding Chris Gyan and slipping in Guti whose instinctive back-heel was curled into the net with his right instep by the rampaging left-back.
Lurling shoots wide
Showing commendable spirit, Feyenoord refused to buckle, as lesser teams may have under such pressure, and Anthony Lurling toe-poked a 20-metre effort narrowly wide in the 39th minute. Two minutes later Paul Bosvelt threatened to reduce arrears with another powerful effort from distance, but his shot too failed to trouble Casillas.
Although Madrid started the second half determinedly, forcing a succession of corners, it was Feyenoord who struck first. Bosvelt - at last afforded a modicum of space to push forward - was felled on the edge of the box by Zidane in the 55th minute to present Van Hooijdonk with an identical free-kick opportunity from which he scored against BV Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Cup final. Again, the giant Dutchman made no mistake, beating Casillas to his right.
Madrid restore advantage
As if affronted by Feyenoord's audacity, Madrid restored their two-goal advantage four minutes later. Cambiasso and Zidane combined to set up Figo who had time to pick out Guti at the far post, leaving the striker - preferred here to the unsettled Fernando Morientes - with the simple task of nodding the ball into an empty net.
Next big thing
Eleven minutes later Guti was replaced by Javier Portillo, touted as the next big thing at the Santiago Bernabéu, although Cambiasso, on the evidence of tonight's performance at least, must surely be a contender for that honour.
The victory, though, was a team one, a success based on a collective endeavour and will to win in style. In becoming the first Champions League winners to lift the trophy in Monaco, having themselves lost previous encounters to Chelsea FC and Galatasaray SK, Madrid have started a season in which they are chasing honours on five fronts majestically.