Slick Real Madrid Too Good for Manchester United in UEFA Super Cup
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Slick Real Madrid Too Good for Manchester United in UEFA Super Cup

Big things might be expected of Manchester United in the Premier League, but they were given a message about how tough it will be to conquer Europe after falling to defeat to Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.

Jose Mourinho’s United were perceived to hold a slight advantage over Real in terms of fitness, with the Spanish season starting later than the Premier League, but it made no difference as Casemiro and Isco scored to give the Champions League holders a 2-1 win. Romelu Lukaku netted a scrappy consolation for United, but it would not have been any consolation for Mourinho.

It was a game in Macedonia played in oppressive heat, with southern Europe gripped by a heatwave, but it did not hinder Real who reinforced exactly why they are the best team around right now.

Mourinho wants to get United there, he has invested heavily in his playing staff in a bid to achieve his goal, but the chasm is large as Real became the first side since AC Milan in 1990 to defend the Super Cup.

And it was a defence they achieved at a relative canter. Real were slick and incisive in possession, which forced United to defend deep. Against a team of such attacking resources as Zinedine Zidane’s Real, that’s a recipe for disaster and it came as no surprise when the Spaniards opened the scoring on 24 minutes.

A simple clipped pass over the top found Casemiro in the area and he slotted a shot beyond David de Gea. Mourinho brought in Victor Lindelof this summer to shore up his defence, but he has much to learn about the art of defending after allowing Casemiro to drift off his shoulder so easily.

United chances were few and far between, while Real threatened regularly. Madrid doubled their lead on 52 minutes – with the excellent Gareth Bale, who hit the woodwork and was a menace throughout, the architect.

Isco exchanged passes with Bale on the edge of the box and danced into the area with the grace of a ballerina before stroking the ball beyond De Gea. It was nothing more than Real deserved and highlighted the gulf in class between the two sides.

Lukaku, who was subdued in the first half, got United back into the match on 62 minutes, pouncing on a loose ball after Keylor Navas could only parry a shot from Nemanja Matic.

United, whose late efforts revolved around lumping long balls forward, had a chance to force extra time but Navas made a superb save to deny substitute Marcus Rashford.

It allowed Real to celebrate the addition of another trophy into the cabinet; the Bernabeu may need to order in a bigger cabinet if this goes on.

For United, the sight of Mourinho trudging off and handing his loser’s medal to a fan in the crowd summed up how far they have to go to compete on the European stage.

But on Sunday, it’s domestic matters and this defeat will be consigned to the memory banks if three points are secured against West Ham United.

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