Isco leads Real Madrid to UEFA Super Cup title

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Skopje (Macedonia), Aug 9 (IANS) Spanish football league champions Real Madrid added to their ever-growing trophy haul with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over a gritty Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup, a match in which Isco was the biggest standout.

Real Madrid have completely dominated the world of football since legendary midfielder Zinedine Zidane took over as manager in early 2016, reports Efe news agency.

Since then, they have capturing two Champions League titles (2016 and 2017), a La Liga crown (2017), a FIFA Club World Cup title and now a second straight UEFA Super Cup.

At the Philip II Arena here on Tuesday night, reigning Europa League champions Manchester United played a rugged, physical style, while Real Madrid, winners of last season’s Champions League, depended on the magical feet of Isco to control the contest in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not enter the game until the 83rd minute.

A key offensive player early on for Real Madrid was Casemiro, who banged a header against the crossbar in the 16th minute and then opened the scoring eight minutes later when he booted a perfectly placed pass from Dani Carvajal into the back of the net past goalkeeper David de Gea.

Shortly after halftime, that lead grew to 2-0 thanks to a perfectly executed give-and-go between Isco and Gareth Bale, who set up his teammate for an easy finish inside the right upright in the 52nd minute.

Manchester United continued to battle and finally was rewarded when a powerful blast off the foot of Nemanja Matic ricocheted off diving net minder Keylor Navas and directly to Romelu Lukaku, who slotted the ball home from close range in the 62nd minute.

The Red Devils then had an excellent chance to draw level on a left-footed shot by Marcus Rashford in the 81st minute, but Navas managed to get a hand on it and push it wide of the goal.

Seven minutes of stoppage time were tacked on, with Ronaldo getting one opportunity before the final whistle but sending his free kick sailing far above the crossbar.

With the loss, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who coached Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013, remained winless against his former club.

–IANS

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