GUANGZHOU — Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo put on a scintillating first-half show as Real Madrid cruised past Inter Milan 3-0 in the International Champions Cup here Monday.
Jese, Raphael Varane and James Rodriguez got the goals for the Spanish giant on a hot and humid night, but it was the display of the two modern-day Galacticos that will live long in the memory of the 39,896 fans who packed the Tianhe stadium.
Real Madrid thumped Manchester City 4-1 in Melbourne Friday and it always looked like it would hand out a similar hammering to Inter as it was quickly into its stride.
Karim Benzema, who has been suffering with a slight thigh injury, was not risked, giving Jese a chance to play in a three-pronged attack with the world’s two most expensive footballers, Ronaldo and Bale.
And it didn’t take long for Ronaldo to show his intent, a neat turn in the center circle and darting run leading to Bale being sent clear on the left in the first minute but the Welshman’s cross came to nothing.
Just a minute later Inter’s Juan Jesus got away down the left with his cross just evading the head of the onrushing Mauro Icardi on the six-yard line.
But that was about as close as the Italian side came as Madrid took control, with Bale and Ronaldo at the heart of everything good.
On another day each might have claimed a first-half hat trick in a rampant display. Bale first shot wide when set free by Ronaldo on the left and the Portuguese reproduced the Welshman’s wastefulness minutes later.
Ronaldo then forced two classy saves from Samir Handanovic, the second from a trademark dipping and swerving 35-yard free-kick which the keeper parried over one-handed at full stretch while Bale was terrorising full-back Martin Montoya – on loan from Barcelona – with his pace.
When the breakthrough came after 29 minutes it inevitably involved the marauding Bale, who this time chose to swing a crossfield ball from right to left and find the advancing full-back Marcelo in space.
The Brazilian had time to pick out Jese near the back post with a pinpoint cross. The Spaniard turned neatly inside Jeison Murillo and found the right-hand corner of the net with a sharp left-foot finish to give Madrid a deserved lead.
Ronaldo went through his full repertoire of tricks to huge roars and Bale was a constant threat. But with the superb Handanovic making a series of fine saves to deny the pair, Inter somehow made it to the break without conceding further.
A glut of half-time substitutions which saw Ronaldo and Bale depart interrupted Madrid’s flow, but they remained the more likely to score.
And the second goal duly came on 55 minutes when Inter failed to clear a corner properly. Toni Kroos helped the ball back in to substitute Lucas Vazquez on the right of the box and he picked out the lurking Raphael Varane, another sub, who buried his header from six yards.
There was just time for Colombia’s World Cup star James Rodriguez, who had only joined up with the Real Madrid squad in China Sunday after his Copa America exertions, to enter the fray in the 77th minute.
He completed a terrific cameo with a 35-yard left-foot curling freekick into the left-hand corner for Real’s third goal two minutes from time.
Inter, despite boasting Serie A’s joint top scorer last term in Icardi, has lost all three matches on a miserable China tour and failed to score a single goal.
Hotshot Icardi will soon be partnered up front by Stevan Jovetic, who arrived in Milan Monday for a medical and to complete the formalities of his move from Manchester City to the San Siro.
For manager Roberto Mancini, who on this evidence badly needs to bolster an impotent strike force, the Montenegrin can’t arrive quickly enough. – AFP