By Mike Collett
Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice as a rampant Real Madrid side, featuring the most expensive strikeforce ever assembled, powered to a 2-0 win over Sevilla in the all-Spanish UEFA Super Cup at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.
Real, starting with eight of the team that won the Champions League last season, were predictably the better side in the annual curtain-raiser to the European club season and were far too strong for Sevilla, the Europa League winners.
Ronaldo put Real ahead after 30 minutes when he converted a sublime pass from returning hometown hero Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive player, and the Portuguese winger made it 2-0 with a fierce left-foot shot after 49 minutes.
Real’s front four of Bale, Ronaldo, Colombia’s James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema, who cost a total of about 270 million pounds, could easily have scored more as the Madrid side won the trophy for the first time since 2002.
The opening goal, started and finished by Ronaldo, deservedly saw Real take the lead as they dominated the opening half and went close to scoring at least three other goals.
Ronaldo began the move inside his own half before the ball was played out to Bale wide on the left.
The Welshman, playing back in his birthplace, raced forward and then sent a deadly accurate, swirling 40-metre cross-field pass into Ronaldo’s path.
The Portugal forward, who ran more than 50 metres to get into a scoring position, slid the ball home under Sevilla goalkeeper Beto to put the European champions ahead.
Ronaldo had gone close to scoring four minutes earlier when he turned away from the defence after a Benzema pass, but Beto blocked his effort that time.
Bale had two other attempts deflected and Ronaldo also went close with a free-kick in the opening period.
Although Sevilla played neat football in midfield, with Denis Suarez involved, their only real chance saw forward Vitolo’s 20th minute shot blocked by keeper Iker Casillas.
The outcome was all but settled four minutes after the break when Ronaldo thundered home a left-foot shot that Beto, who was far off his line, got his fingers to but could not keep out.
Toni Kroos, who joined Real from Bayern Munich after helping Germany win the World Cup last month, played in Benzema who fed Ronaldo to scored from 15 metres.
The neutrals in the 33,000-crowd cheered Bale every time he touched the ball and, although he did not score, the Welshman had a night to remember as Real gave every indication they could go a long way in defending the Champions League this term.