SAN DIEGO — It was case of the old "tale of two halves" cliché for Guadalajara on Wednesday night.
The first 45 saw them go toe-to-toe with Real Madrid, closing spaces and defending well to keep the Spanish giants off the scoreboard.
But in the second 45, Chivas’ performance was the opposite and it ended up costing them, as Cristiano Ronaldo made a powerful late three-goal push that saw the Mexican side fall 3-0 in a Herbalife World Football Challenge match at Qualcomm Stadium.
“The first half was very even,” said Chivas captain Héctor Reynoso. “I think they were surprised that we didn’t give them the initiative. We attacked, held some of the ball.
“[The second half], we gave them more time on the ball, more time to think when they had the ball. They were more mobile, we stopped doing what had worked, which was to be compact, get the ball and turn it around. They took advantage of that.”
Real Madrid certainly did benefit from having more time on the ball. While los Blancos tested Chivas quite a bit in the first half, all their advances seemed hurried because of the pressure Guadalajara’s defense and midfield exerted.
But in the second half, Real Madrid were able to plan their forays, systematically advancing until they broke down the Rojiblancos defense and finally put one — then eventually two more — past goalkeeper Luis Míchel, who had a standout performance between the pipes with nine saves on the night.
“You try to do as best you can for the team,” said a humble Míchel after the match. “I think the team was up to par for a good while, but at the end, you have to also see the rival in front of you. [Real Madrid] are opponents that you can’t give a single moment [of space] because they’ll score.”
After stopping Ronaldo and Karim Benzema a handful of times throughout the match, Míchel finally saw one get past him in the 73rd minute. Ronaldo found a glimpse of space between two defenders in the box, brought the ball down, and toe-poked his effort into the net. He later added a second via penalty kick and a third from the run of play to finish off Guadalajara in style.
The loss is not the manner in which Guadalajara wanted to close out the preseason. The result at Qualcomm Stadium marked their seventh straight winless preseason match after tying three and losing three in Mexico.
But at the end of the day, the game against Real Madrid will serve Chivas as a top-quality final tune-up to see where they lay going into their first game of the Apertura 2011 on Saturday.
“In the end, this was our last preseason match against a top-shelf opponent, and we have to see it that way,” said Reynoso. “We have to point out the good things we did and, logically, work on the bad things.”
Said Guadalajara head coach José Luis Real, “We knew it was going to be a difficult match. ... Chivas did what we know how to do and didn’t try to do strange things nor play defensively. [In the end], I’m satisfied. I liked how the team played in the first half, it looked good, and we’re going to take that into Saturday.”