HELSINKI: Goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a fifth UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.
While Frankfurt were dangerous, particularly in the first half, Madrid’s experience and individual quality saw them through, as it did so often in their victorious 2021-22 Champions League campaign.
“It wasn’t an easy game, they were entrenched in their own half, but we managed to score and we controlled it well afterwards,” Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told Movistar TV.
“At the start of the season, you can’t expect the team to be already at 100 percent, but we won and we have started the season well. I believe it can help us achieve better results and winning helps motivate the players.”
It was a particularly memorable evening for veteran French striker Benzema whose goal took him to 324 for the Spanish side, one more than Raul.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 450, has more Real goals than Benzema.
“Now he’s in line for the Ballon d’Or. Is there any doubt? For me, no,” added Ancelotti.
Frankfurt had the best of the early stages, with Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois forced into a stunning anticipation save when one-on-one with Daichi Kamada in the 14th minute.
Madrid almost got their first, when Benzema released Vinicius to curl past Kevin Trapp in the penalty box, only for Tuta to clear the ball off the line.
With Madrid dominating possession, Frankfurt mounted several counter-attacks until Madrid launched a counter of their own in the 37th minute.
A diving Trapp got his fingertips to a goal-bound shot by Vinicius, pushing the ball out for a corner.
From the ensuing play, Benzema linked with Casemiro just next to the right post.
The Brazilian sucked in several Frankfurt defenders and a diving Trapp, before heading back to an unmarked Alaba who scored from close range.
After the goal, Madrid stepped it up a gear and should have gone 2-0 up, with Benzema uncharacteristically dragging the ball wide with the goal begging in the 41st minute.
Vinicius, Benzema connect
Madrid’s quality became more obvious in the second half, with Trapp saving a deflected Vinicius shot in the 54th minute and Casemiro hitting the crossbar with 61 minutes gone.
Borussia Dortmund loanee Ansgar Knauff had a chance saved just minutes later, before Vinicius and Benzema combined to put Madrid 2-0 up.
Vinicius skated down the left before slicing the ball back seemingly unsighted for the Frenchman to hammer home from the edge of the box.
Frankfurt fought hard in the closing stages but Madrid were able to dominate the game to win their fifth Super Cup from eight attempts.
Alaba praised his team’s determination to continue their stellar form from last season.
“We were here to win and to collect the next title… We want to pick up where we left off last season,” Alaba told RTL.
“It’s always nice to score goals - it doesn’t happen so often for me.”
Frankfurt captain Sebastian Rode lamented his side’s failures to take their opportunities.
“Against the Champions League winners you have to take your chances. We didn’t take ours in the decisive moments,” he told broadcaster DAZN.
The clash, in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium, was the first time these two sides had met in a European decider since 1960, when Madrid dismantled Frankfurt 7-3 through four goals to Ferenc Puskas and three to Alfredo di Stefano in the European Cup final.
The match also highlighted the growing gap between the Champions League and Europa League competitions, with Madrid being the ninth Champions League team to win the competition in the past 10 years.
Only city rivals Atletico Madrid have won the Super Cup when qualifying via a Europa League win in the past decade, having done so by beating Real in the 2018 edition.