Football

Ronaldo dazzles

Real show their class over Man City in Benitez's first win at the helm

REAL MADRID 4

(Karim Benzema 21, Cristiano Ronaldo 25, Pepe 44, Denis Cherychev 73)

MAN CITY 1

(Yaya Toure 45+3-pen)

Cristiano Ronaldo turned on a show as Real Madrid demolished Manchester City 4-1 before a record crowd in the International Champions Cup Australia final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.

World Footballer of the Year Ronaldo showcased his sublime skills and was among the goalscorers as Real ripped apart the 2014 English Premier League champions in a blistering first-half performance before 99,382 fans at the vast stadium.

It was the MCG's biggest crowd for a football-only event.

The 10-time European champions revelled in the atmosphere, opening up City with dazzling touches, flicks and clinical finishing for three goals in the first half.

It was Rafa Benitez's first win in charge of the La Liga glamour side since replacing Carlo Ancelotti and clinched his first piece of silverware.

Real had a subdued game in the penalty shoot-out loss to AS Roma in the tournament opener last week.

The International Champions Cup may not take pride of place in the Spaniard's trophy cabinet, but Benitez was pleased with his forwards' ruthless demolition of a City side missing three leading central defenders.

"It has been a very good time here," Benitez said. "Really pleased with everything. Every day our physical condition is a little bit better. The team were playing with intensity, aggression."

"It's important to win and to play well is a positive thing for the future."

French striker Karim Benzema put the Spanish giants ahead with a spectacular finish in the 21st minute.

Benzema hooked in Gareth Bale's cross over his left shoulder in a brilliant piece of finishing following a fine run down the right wing by Daniel Carvajal in the lead-up.

Ronaldo pounced four minutes later, bringing down German Toni Kroos' long pass with a sublime first touch before poking home.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart was unable to keep the ball from crossing the line for a double Real sucker punch after shaky City defending as Ronaldo thrilled the crowd with his trademark goal celebration.

It got worse for City when central defender Pepe scored Real's third with an unmarked thumping header off Isco's corner just a minute before half-time.

Deep in first-half stoppage time, City got one goal back through a penalty for a Sergio Ramos hand-ball as he jostled with Raheem Sterling.

Yaya Toure slotted home the spot kick for City to trail 3-1 at the break.

Russian Denis Cheryshev made it four when he stabbed home an Isco cross with 17 minutes left.

City's night was further soured when new signing Fabian Delph injured his left hamstring and was carried off after just 18 minutes to be replaced by Jesus Navas.

Coach Benitez made four changes at half-time, bringing off Benzema, Luka Modric, Carvajal and Pepe, while Manuel Pellegrini left his City team unchanged.

Ronaldo, world football's highest paid player, turned on his party tricks for the appreciative MCG crowd, with his cheeky stepovers and flicks.

Edin Dzeko, the subject of transfer speculation, got his first run of the tournament for City, coming on in the 64th minute as Toure, Ronaldo and Ramos came off at the same time.

City's record signing Sterling had a quiet night and was well contained by Ramos before he was substituted midway through the second half.

City paid for the absence of key central defenders - Vincent Kompany left the tour early to be with his pregnant wife and Frenchman Eliaquim Mangala who became ill yesterday morning.

In their place, Pellegrini used Belgian Jason Denayer and youngster Cameron Humphreys in the heart of the defence.

"We knew before the game that it would be difficult to play against such a team of good attackers and missing three centre-backs," Pellegrini said.

"Mangala was sick this morning and he couldn't play and after Delph went off injured we had to make some changes but after that it was more about our weak defence."

Real Madrid now head to China where they will play Italian clubs AC Milan and Inter Milan from today to Thursday. - Wire Services.

Benzema Won'T Leave: Rafa

Rafa Benitez is sure that Karim Benzema will stay at Real Madrid, despite being linked with a move away from the Bernabeu.

Arsenal have for some time now been linked with the Frenchman in a bid to bolster their attack line this summer.

However, Benitez has dismissed claims that Benzema will be departing for the Premier League side during the transfer window.

"People are asking me about different players that maybe we will buy and I always say the same thing, 'he's not our player, I will not talk about that'," Benitez said, following Real's 4-1 pre-season friendly win over Manchester City in Melbourne

"In this case Karim is our player so I will not talk about that. I hope, I'm sure, that he will stay with us."

Gareth Bale has also been in the news over the last few months with many suggesting he could be bound for Old Trafford.

The Welshman yesterday refused to talk about Manchester United, only focusing on the positives of Real's emphatic win which saw them lift the International Champions Cup in Melbourne.

"Obviously we want to win every game we play even if it's a friendly," said Bale. "But it was an amazing event put on by everybody here in Melbourne and it was great to be a part of.

"To win is a good way to cap it off."

Real's slump towards the end of last season saw them miss out on the Spanish league, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles, and Bale is aware that failure is not an option again this year.

"We know we have to win," he added. "But at the moment it's about building fitness. To get a win under our belts already is a good step in the right direction, and hopefully it's onwards and upwards from here."

- Wire Services.

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