NEW YORK – Cristiano Ronaldo gave a sold-out crowd at Yankee Stadium the show they were hoping for in a 5-1 Real Madrid win over AC Milan in Herbalife World Football Challenge action on Wednesday night.
Ronaldo’s second-half brace sealed a dominant victory for the Spanish side after Madrid’s Ángel di María and Milan’s Robinho exchanged first-half goals. Sergio Ramos and José María Callejón tacked on late goals for the Spanish champions to round out the score line.
The script of the game was clear from the outset: Real Madrid dictating the match by dominating possession with AC Milan maintaining their tactical shape and ready to pounce on the break with its quick and creative strikeforce. Madrid went on to outshoot the Italian side 13-3 in the opening half.
Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, who was making his first appearance of the preseason was busy early on, parrying an early knuckler from Sami Khedira in the eighth minute and a blast from Ronaldo in the 23rd.
But it was Abbiati who served up the ball to di María on his opening goal in the 24th minute. The Italian ‘keeper punched away one of nine Real Madrid first-half corner kicks in the direction of di María. From 20 yards out, the Argentine coordinated his body to strike a masterful right-footed volley and beat a retreating Abbiati.
When it looked like the rout could be on with a punchless and lightweight Milan attack creating little trouble for Real Madrid, the Italian side created a brilliant goal.
Antonio Cassano fed fellow Italian international Antonio Nocerino, who one-timed a ball into the path of an unmarked Robinho. The Brazilian national teamer, cool as they come, used a side-footed volley to beat Iker Casillas for the equalizer and put a bow on a spectacular maneuver.
But Robinho’s goal only gave AC Milan fans false hope as Real Madrid mercilessly poured it on to end the first half and then to start the second.
Four minutes after the break, Ronaldo scored the goal of the night, taking a Lass Diarra feed and beaming a left-footed laser shot into the left corner to beat backup Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia, who was left motionless at the near post.
Madrid continued to pepper the Milan goal and combined for a masterful tally in the 66th minute. Second-half substitute Kaká, rumored to be the subject of a sensational return to AC Milan, fed Ronaldo. The Portuguese international beat the offside trap and slotted home an easy finish for a 3-1 lead.
The AC Milan attack was not to be heard from except for a 73rd minute Kevin Constant header, which finished over the bar.
And a minute after Ronaldo came off to a standing ovation in the 80th minute, Real Madrid tacked on yet another goal on an imperious header from Ramos, who finished off a Kaká corner kick to make it 4-1.
Kaká wasn’t done inflicting damage on his ex-club, picking out Callejón with a pinpoint pass in the 89th minute and the forward applied a clinical finish to close out the 5-1 score line.
While AC Milan head back to Italy licking their wounds, Real Madrid move on to Philadelphia for Saturday afternoon's WFC finale at Lincoln Financial Field against Scottish giants Celtic (1:30 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).