Madrid, Aug 20: Late goals from James Rodriguez and Raul Garcia meant the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid ended in a 1-1 draw with everything to be decided in three days on the latter’s home turf. The game between the Cup and League winners from last season may have kicked off an hour before midnight Tuesday but it was not lacking in tension or interest, reports Xinhua.
Much of the interest was focused in the starting XI of both sides. Real Madrid began without new signing Rodriguez or Angel Di Maria, who is the subject of constant transfer rumours, while Atletico left recent arrival Antoine Griezmann on the bench. Atletico coach Diego Simeone paired Garcia and Mario Mandzukic in attack with Saul Niguez, who was on loan with Rayo Vallecano last season, given his chance in a solid midfield alongside Mario Suarez, Gabi Rodriguez and Koke.
Atletico totally cancelled out their rivals in the first 45 minutes which saw more tension than football as their midfield did what it did so well last season — stop their rivals from playing. The second half kicked off without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was substituted as a precaution following a foot injury to be replaced by Rodriguez, and Gareth Bale worked Real’s best chance with a low shot which was well saved by Miguel Angel Moya in the Atletico goal.
The game also grew increasingly bad tempered as Sergio Ramos was lucky to stay on the pitch after appearing to punch Mandzukic as the pair went to ground after an aerial tussle. Meanwhile, Toni Kroos fired over following a free kick before Carlo Ancelotti decided to introduce di Maria into the game to inject more pace into his side.
Rodriguez scored his first goal for Real Madrid 10 minutes from time with a dose of luck as he was shot home via a deflection as the ball pinged around the Atletico penalty area. But the lead lasted just eight minutes before Garcia flicked home a header following a corner to level the scores and give Atletico an advantage for Friday’s return leg at the Vicente Calderon.