Real Madrid beats Inter Milan 3-0
ST. LOUIS (AP) — After yet another impressive display to finish its U.S. tour, Real Madrid headed for the airport confident it’s ready for the season.
Another highlight goal from Cristiano Ronaldo led the way in a dominant preseason finale with a 3-0 victory over Inter Milan on Saturday.
“I’m very happy with this team, with these players,” new coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “They have incredible ability, all the guys.”
Real Madrid visited three cities for the first time with previous stops in Miami and Phoenix. They escaped the finale injury-free, too.
“Not only here, but in every stadium we found a very good atmosphere and local support was fantastic,” Ancelotti said. “The soccer in America is improving quickly.”
Kaka’s second-effort header started the scoring in the 11th minute for Real Madrid, which was 6-0-1 in the preseason and allowed one or fewer goals in all but one of them. Play was interrupted for several minutes in the second half when several fans dashed onto the field to shake hands with or even hug Real Madrid players.
The delay came right after a corner kick deflected into the net off defender Ricardo Alvarez in the 68th minute to make it 3-0.
The attendance of 54,184 was the largest ever for a soccer game in St. Louis, though about 13,000 shy of capacity at the Edward Jones Dome. It topped standing-room attendance of more than 48,000 in May for Manchester City’s 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Chelsea at Busch Stadium.
Both organizers, the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, are hopeful the city will become a regular stop.
“I would assure you that St. Louis is definitely on their radar screen,” said Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission.
More fans dashed onto the field after the game ended, testing the depth of security staffing, and perhaps their desire to see some of the game, too.
Neither team had issues with the temporary grass surface. The St. Louis Rams’ artificial turf surface was rolled up and removed earlier in the week and 400 truckloads of sod from nearby Columbia, Ill., were installed.
“It was not the best but I think we didn’t have a problem to play,” Ancelotti said.
Inter Milan coach Walter Mazzarri said Rodrigo Palaco struggled with footing at times but pointed out conditions were the same for both clubs and didn’t “really want to use that as an excuse.”
Inter Milan tested Real Madrid backup goalie Diego Lopez several times in the second half, including two good chances from Alvarez and one rifled over the crossbar by Rodrigo Palacio, the team’s leading scorer last season.
Mazzarri judged it a worthy effort against Real Madrid, which also changed coaches in an effort to break Barcelona’s hold on the Spanish League. He thought Inter Milan, which was 3-3-2 in the preseason, could have made it a one-goal game.
“Real Madrid is definitely a great team,” Mazzarri said through an interpreter. “They could be one of the first, second, or third teams in Europe or the world, and I’m happy with the result.
“I’m not happy with the result, but I’m happy with our team’s performance overall.”
Inter Milan is coming off an injury-plagued season in which it failed to make the European tournament for the first time in 15 years
“Obviously, we know they’re a very strong, competitive team,” Mazzarri said through a translator. “Yet, we had six or seven goal-scoring opportunities.”
Ronaldo played the first half and made it 2-0 in the 38th minute when he took a pass from Casemiro in the area in stride and ripped a one-timer past diving goalie Samir Handanovic. It was his sixth goal of the preseason.
“That was a fantastic goal,” Ancelotti said. “It was not easy to shoot on one touch. And don’t forget the pass, which was good.”
Three days earlier, Ronaldo scored twice in the title game victory over Chelsea in the Guinness International Championship Cup, including a free kick looped over defenders that then curled just under the crossbar.