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LA GALAXY

Aug. 1, 2013
REAL DOMINANCE
Villarreal impresses as Galaxy falls again to Real Madrid

By Scott French
LA Soccer News Contributing Editor

Jose Villareal's face-saving second half goal kept the Galaxy in the game against Real Madrid on Thursday.
Jose Villareal's face-saving second half goal kept the Galaxy in the game against Real Madrid on Thursday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Karim Benzema came off the bench to add two goals to Angel di Maria's first-half tally, and Real Madrid did exactly as it was expected to Thursday night, toying with the starless Galaxy en route to a 3-1 International Champions Cup victory in Glendale, Ariz.

Cristiano Ronaldo delighted fans with his class, dominating L.A.'s defense the first 45 minutes, putting a header off the crossbar and coming close on several more opportunities as the Spanish superpower dictated terms from start to finish.

Jose Villarreal scored a superb goal to halve the deficit to 2-1 midway through the second half, capping an impressive display for the teen striker in a first-round game of the eight-team exhibition tournament.

“I'm very happy for Jose Villarreal,” head coach Bruce Arena told reporters. “It was a great individual play, and a great play by Robbie Rogers to get him the ball. Jose was well positioned and it was a great individual effort. It was outstanding, a great moment.”

The Galaxy fall into the consolation bracket, where they will face Juventus in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader at Dodger Stadium. Real Madrid will take on Everton, a 2-0 winner over Juve on Thursday in Indianapolis, in the 5 p.m. opener.

“It's not easy to play on two days rest,” Arena said. “We are caught in the same bind as Real Madrid. I think that's why Ronaldo played only 45 minutes. It's tough for teams in the tournament.”

The Galaxy were without their three biggest names. Captain Robbie Keane is recovering from a torn hip flexor, and Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez played in Wednesday night's MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City, Kan. Donovan and Gonzalez, who scored the All-Stars' lone goal in a loss to AS Roma, ought to be available Saturday.

“Back home, we should have Donovan, Gonzalez and maybe Keane,” Arena said.

Its the fourth straight summer and fifth time Real Madrid has beaten the Galaxy, but the scoreline has been closer just once before, in a 3-2 decision at the Rose Bowl in 2010.

Rookies Kofi Opare and Oscar Sorto made their first-team debuts for the Galaxy, which used 21 players, giving only goalkeeper Brian Rowe a full 90 minutes.

Real Madrid repeatedly created chances, especially in the first hour, and were unfortunate not to be up by three or four goals at halftime. Rowe and A.J. DeLaGarza contributed to that.

Rowe was fine most of the night, with two highlight plays: coming off his line to cut off Daniel Carvajal as he chased a through ball in the 13th minute, then diving to deny Isco after the Spaniard twisted Opare to the ground in the 60th. DeLaGarza's best moment was in the 16th minute, when he tracked down Ronaldo in the box and blocked his shot.

All three Real goals came from quick counters, with the chief pass coming from midfield or within Real's territory. Di Maria provided a 15th-minute lead, chipping easily into the net after Isco's long ball found Ronaldo behind three defenders on the right at the edge of the box. His simple volley left di Maria, who had raced past DeLaGarza, a can't-miss chance.

Benzema beautifully finished an Isco long ball after finding space behind Todd Dunivant in the 51st minute, then nodded home di Maria’s poorly defended cross in the 74th.

Villarreal nearly had two sensational goals. In the ninth minute, he tracked down Juninho's too-deep corner kick on the right byline, then beat Casemiro and Carvajal with a weaving run to the near post before firing into the backside of the post.

His goal, in the 63rd minute, was a stunner. Robbie Rogers, returning from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss L.A.'s last two MLS games, delivered a cross from the left wing that was headed out of the box. Villarreal took it on the fly just beyond the arc above the box, beating Luca Modric with his first touch to his left, then quickly stepping past Daniel Mateos with a dribble into the box and firing into the right side of the net.

“You got to come out with a little bit of confidence,” Villarreal said. “I think I did that, and I'm happy I got the goal, but not happy with the result.”
 
 
 
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