If Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane makes his team write essays about they spent their summer vacation, at least the ending will be a happy one.
After a 1-1 tie to end regulation, the visitors finally shook free from a determined MLS All-Star side, 4-2, in a penalty shootout Wednesday night when Marcelo’s kick skidded low right and past diving goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Real made all four of its tries in the round. Both former Sporting KC star Dom Dwyer and Giovani Do Santos, the first two shooters sent out by MLS, were stopped by Real goalkeeper Luca Zidane (the coach’s son) and the crossbar, respectively.
Real Madrid took a 1-0 lead just inside the hour mark, after a clever through pass from Dani Ceballos sent Borja Mayoral in alone against Frei. Mayoral’s right-footed shot barely beat a sliding tackle from MLS defender Dax McCarty before eluding Frei’s dive to his left.
The All-Stars drew even in the 89th minute on a sequence that resembled a pinball game. McCarty headed a corner from Diego Valeri that bounced low off the right post and then hit teammate Kellyn Acosta. Dwyer, who’s made a splash during his brief tenure with the U.S. national team, came through the crowd in front of the net and his header from close-in tied the game.
The match came at the end of Real Madrid’s summer tour, and as expected, Zidane reached deep into his bench to begin the game. Without Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not make the tour, only four other players who started in the team’s Champions League final win — defender Sergio Ramos, midfielders Toni Kroos and Isco, and goalkeeper Keylor Navas — were in the starting lineup.
Of those four, only Isco returned for the second half. But he left just past the hour mark as a second wave of Madrid starters — Marcelo, Gareth Bale, Casemiro and Karim Benzema — joined the action.
MLS coach Veljko Paunovic pulled the last of his starters after halftime and sent 10 new players out. But that side was no more effective than the starters until Dwyer evened the match.
Real Madrid had nearly all of the early chances, and Mayoral missed the best one in the 27th minute with a curling drive from the top of the box that was wide of the right post. Defender Sergio Ramos missed the most entertaining chance when he raced into the box alone and tried to chip goalkeeper Tim Howard just before halftime. The attempt flew over the crossbar.
MLS defender Greg Garza suffered a separated shoulder just two minutes into the game when he was tackled by Isco near midfield and fell hard on his right side. He was replaced by veteran DaMarcus Beasley five minutes later.
The All-Stars’ best chance in the opening half featured a deft pass from Kaka deep in the box that set David Villa up from point-blank range. But Real Madrid’s defense converged to smother the attempt.
Sporting KC player Graham Zusi also played for the MLS All-Stars.