Real Madrid too powerful for Toronto FC
All hail Real Madrid, the undisputed kings of the beautiful game.
Toronto FC, the lowly plebeians from Major League Soccer, were no match for the Spanish outfit, the mighty monarchs easily defeating the Canadian club 5-1 in an international friendly before a record crowd of 22,089 spectators at BMO Field on Friday night.
Having ascended from mere mortality to the level of monarchy in 1920 when King Alfonso XIII officially bestowed the title of Real (Royal) to the club, Real Madrid truly lived up to their regal status on Friday.
The nine-time champions of Europe completely outclassed the Canadian side, leaving no doubt that aspiring MLS clubs still have a long way to go before even being remotely competitive against the sport's elite class.
Toronto's Dwayne De Rosario produced the first bit of spectacle in the opening seconds, blowing by Alvaro Arbeloa as he pirouetted around the Madrid defender with the ball glued to his feet and skipped down the wing.
Toronto nearly opened the scoring minutes later. Pablo Vitti snuck in behind the defence, but Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas furiously rushed off his line to thwart the Argentine forward.
It was all downhill for the MLS club from there.
Brazilian playmaker Kaka, making his Real Madrid debut since a $101-million Cdn transfer from AC Milan in June, was hacked down inside the penalty box a minute later but the referee waved play on.
The Spaniards would not be denied, though, and they responded with two quick goals, taking advantage of some slack Toronto defending. Raul slotted a close-range shot into the roof of the net in the 13th minute, and Cristiano Ronaldo converted a Karim Benzema pass five minutes later.
Raul notched his second of the game in the 25th minute, scoring on a header at the near post after Toronto's defence again failed to clear the ball out of danger.
Madrid continued to easily dictate the proceedings in the second half, barely giving Toronto a touch of the ball.
Coach Manuel Pellegrini showed Toronto FC some mercy when he substituted Ronaldo, the reigning FIFA world player of the year, out of the game in the 62nd minute.
But the Spanish inquisition continued unabated, Benzema scoring Madrid's fourth goal of the night just five minutes later after some diligent work inside the box by teammate Alvaro Negrado.
The hometown fans were finally given something to cheer about with 15 minutes left in regulation. Jerzey Dudek, who replaced Casillas at half time, couldn't control a shot from O'Brian White, and Gabe Gala fended off a Madrid defender and poked the rebound home.
Arjen Robben completed the Madrid massacre with a late goal.
Toronto struggled to keep up with the blinding pace of Real Madrid’s glittering roster of stars, especially Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and long-time captain Raul.
"Their movement, their passing, their ability to get forward and score goals was fantastic," Toronto coach Chris Cummins conceded.
Real Madrid only deigned to grace Toronto FC with its royal presence after the MLS club agreed to lay down natural grass over BMO Field's artificial surface (at a cost of $250,000) and pay the Spanish outfit a reported $1 million US appearance fee.
But it was money well spent according to Cummins, who called the heavy loss a good learning experience, and said he hopes his team can examine the video of the game and adopt Real Madrid's quick pass-and-move playing style.
"They don't take [a lot of] touches of the ball. They get it, they give it and they move," Cummins explained.
Toronto defender Nick Garcia also believed there was a lot the MLS club could take away from their humbling at the hands of Real Madrid.
"It was a four-goal difference, but I think it gave us a lot of experience, [especially] for the young guys who haven't played against this calibre of opposition," stated Garcia.
Fellow Toronto defender Marvell Wynne echoed Garcia's sentiments.
"They have such great players on their squad and it was nice to compare yourself against them, knowing that they've played at the highest level you could possibly play," Wynne said.
Decked out in their famous all-white uniforms, Los Blancos (the whites) put on a stunning master-class exhibition of passing and ball movement, mercilessly ripping the beleaguered Toronto defence to shreds.
Three first-half goals within the space of 13 minutes put paid to any chance of a Toronto victory after the Canadian club started brightly.
"We did pretty well for the first 15 minutes … and then they decided to play," quipped Cummins.
The first half wasn't even over but the wheat had already been separated from the chaff. Or, as the British say, the cat was put among the pigeons — only in this case, the frisky feline ate the little buggers whole.
Madrid continued to dominate in the second half and took a 4-0 lead, but Toronto did salvage some pride in the 75th minute when Canadian midifleder Gabe Gala fought off a defender and slotted the ball home.
"Credit to the [youngster] because he kept his head down, he showed plenty of energy and he bundled the ball in," Cummins said.
Xabi Alonso, who made his Real Madrid debut following a transfer from English side Liverpool earlier in the week, lavished praise on the appreciative Toronto spectators who heartily applauded the Spaniards off the field after the final whistle.
"To come here to Toronto and receive kind support from the fans [was great]," Alonso said.
Real Madrid visits D.C. United for another international friendly on Sunday before returning home to Spain.