Goals from Xabi Alonso and Khedira give a well earned victory to Mourinho’s team against a well prepared Santos Laguna in a sweltering heat in Las Vegas.
Real Madrid appeared in Las Vegas in sweltering heat, with a desert climate and the Sam Boyd stadium practically full. The rivals Santos Laguna of Mexico, were a slightly tougher opponent than last Thursday’s LA Galaxy. The Mexican champions started highly motivated against a Real Madrid team that included the front three trio of Ronaldo, Özil and Higuaín. In the 14th minute the first goal came for the Whites from a sensational Xabi Alonso strike from outside the area. A great goal that put Mourinho’s team ahead on the scoreboard. The goal opened up the game and the Whites began to break into the opposition’s area with ease. In the 18th minute a great piece of play by Higuaín who then passed to Özil in the area, but the German narrowly missed. The Mexican team responded strongly and with occasional attacks against the general run of play.
When the match seemed under control for Real Madrid, Santos Laguna took advantage of indecision in the defence to make it 1-1 through Cristian Suárez on 25 minutes. Mourinho took that opportunity to make the first change and replace Jesé with Alex. Real Madrid reacted quickly and Granero was able to make it 2-1 when his shot took a touch off of a defender on the way in. Cristiano Ronaldo tried from distance but his shot in the 32nd minute went wide. Santos, a team fast in the transition from defence to attack looked to get in behind Real Madrid with long balls into the wings. A scuffle between Granero and Herculez Gomez resulted, surprisingly, in a yellow card for the Whites’ player. In the 39th minute Cristian Suárez found himself in front of Casillas but his shot went wide of the far post. Ronaldo, the most incisive for the Whites, tried his luck again in the 42nd minute with a diagonal shot that sailed through the area without anyone able to touch it into the net. Then the end of the half came.
The second half started with eleven different players for Real Madrid. Adán, Sahin, Ramos, Morata, Benzema, Callejón, Khedira, Kaká, Nacho, Pepe and Lass. Mourinho stayed true to his idea of making eleven changes in these pre-season matches despite the tight scoreline. The Whites had their first chance in the 48th minute after a great move from Kaká which ended in a Benzema shot from inside the 6-yard box that went just over. A minute later Morata had an opportunity but his shot did not find the target. The Whites shifted up a gear. Benzema had a chance to make it 2-1 with a shot from a corner kick but Sanchez made a great save.
Real Madrid kept looking for the goal but it did not come. Callejón had a chance in the 62nd minute but his weak shot went straight into the hands of the Mexican goalkeeper. The referee again to the forefront and gave Pepe a warning, but was inconsistent with other players. The match entered a tough period and this time the yellow was for Hérculez Gómez following a tangle with Pepe, who was playing tough with the forwards. Callejón failed to score with his shot being saved by Sanchez.
Interestingly, the Whites’ goal finally came from a piece of good fortune. In the 71st minute Benzema shot from inside the area and the goalkeeper’s save hit Khedira in the face of and ended up in the back of Santos’ goal. 2-1 and Khedira’s fortunate goal made the scoreline a fair reflection of the match, as the Mexicans barely created any dangerous chances in the second half. The home team pushed for an equalizer and Quintero had the best chance for his team in the 82nd minute but the Adán came off best the one-on-one with the forward. Madrid controlled the ball and the clock looking for to bring home their second victory in the American tour. The strong heat took its toll on both teams and the scoreboard and did not change. A well earned victory and Real Madrid remain unbeaten on their USA tour.► PLAYER MOVEMENTS