An inexperienced centre-back pairing for Manchester City played right into the hands of Rafa Benitez’s Real Madrid, who ran out 4-1 winners at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of a record 99,382 fans in the final game of the International Champions Cup Australia.
A fluid, interchanging front four of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco and Cristiano Ronaldo ran riot against City youngsters Jason Denayer and Cameron Humphreys in the first half, and goals to both Benzema and Ronaldo within four minutes of one another gave the Spanish side a 2-0 lead inside the first 25 minutes.
Real right-back Dani Carvajal turned City’s Samir Nasri on the halfway line before playing in Bale down the right as the Welshman’s right-footed cross found Benzema on the penalty spot and the French striker hooked a volley into the bottom corner to break the deadlock.
Four minutes later it was Ronaldo’s turn to leave his mark on the match. A superb lofted through-ball from Toni Kroos found the reigning Ballon d’Or holder inside the penalty area, and after one touch while holding off Aleksandar Kolarov, his chipped finish crossed the line to double the lead, despite the best efforts of City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
The quick fire double from Real only compounded the Citizens’ misery after debutant Fabian Delph sustained a hamstring injury and was stretchered off early on.
With half-time approaching Pepe made it 3-0 with a thumping header from Isco’s corner, while Yaya Toure pulled one back for City with the last kick of the half from the penalty spot – though replays suggested Sergio Ramos handled the ball outside the penalty area following a touch from Raheem Sterling, who endured a night of boos from the Melbourne crowd.
A flurry of substitutions midway through the second-half impacted on the cohesiveness of both sides, as Ronaldo – who left the pitch to a standing ovation – Sergio Ramos and co. made way for the likes of Denis Cheryshev, Nacho and Alvaro Arbeloa.
Isco remained on the pitch however, and made sure he reminded Benitez that choosing between him and James Rodriguez will likely cause the new manager a few headaches as the Spanish playmaker picked up his second assist of the match. After playing a one-two with Lucas Vazquez on the edge of the box, the former Malaga man got on the outside of his defender before finding substitute Cheryshev unmarked in the six-yard box for a simple finish to complete the rout for Los Blancos with 18 minutes to play.