Spanish Giants are the Real Deal
Former winners Real Madrid held off a spirited display from Russians Spartak Moscow to come out on top in the best game of the tournament so far.
The two clubs produced a five-goal thriller although both sides could have scored more in an entertaining game.
Real, who won the tournament in 2017, played some lovely football and twice opened up a two-goal advantage but Spartak – with skipper Ilya Golyatov proving a real handful – refused to give in and they pushed the Spaniards all the way.
Real made a lively start and Icelandic international Andri Gudjohnsen went close after just two minutes when put through by skipper Javier Lancho.
But the Russians were presented with a glorious opportunity on nine minutes when Magomedemin Rabadanov went down under the challenge of Miguel Ramon but highly-rated Spanish Under 17 international keeper Lucas Conchello dived to his right to save Rabadanov’s penalty.
Within minutes Real were ahead with a fine right-foot effort from Carles Moscardo after Ramon’s initial effort had been blocked.
Real went 2-0 up on 20 minutes with a close-range tap-in from the lively Gudjohnsen and at that stage the Spaniards looked to be cruising to victory. Spartak had other ideas, however, and produced a lovely passing move that ended with Golyatov slotting home to make it 2-1.
Hopes of a comeback were thwarted immediately as Spanish youth international Pau Aran ended a fine passing move that left him in space and he beat Vladislav Pchelnikov with a minimum of fuss.
Golyatov then tested Conchello with a high right-footed drive but the tall keeper was up to the task but the Spartak captain did net his second of the match early into the second half when tapping home Aslan Mutaliev’s left-wing cross.
Real almost restored their two-goal advantage soon after but Lancho’s looping header hit the post. The longer the second went on the more dangerous Spartak became and for large periods they were camped in the Real half without being able to find a way past the imposing Conchello.
Spartak will certainly consider themselves as unlucky to lose but will be thankful that they will rarely come up against a side with the passing and finishing ability of Real Madrid.