Stars Sparkle at Home Depot Center as Real Madrid Downs LA Galaxy 2-0 in Friendly

CARSON Calif. (From MLSNet.com) - Before a packed house at The Home Depot Center Real Madrid scored a goal in each half as the world powerhouse paced themselves to a 2-0 victory against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Monday night.

The final score was really a respectable result for the Galaxy who on paper would have appeared to be very overmatched. Even though the home side was forced to weather a lot of pressure and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman was called upon often to keep his team in the game the MLS side showed flashes of skill and creativity that they could be proud of.

The game was billed as an international friendly but both sides quickly showed how seriously they were taking the contest. In just the fourth minute Guillermo Ramirez picked up a yellow card after a pair of excessive tackles on Madrid defender Michel Salgado.

With the intensity level set the game went as expected with Madrid dominating possession throughout the first half. In just the sixth minute rookie defender Ugo Ihemelu was caught ball watching and allowed Michael Owen to run in behind him. Former World Footballer of the Year Zinedine Zidane made no mistake picking out the run and Owen tucked away a short-range shot to open the scoring.

David Beckham made an almost identical run just minutes later into the Galaxy area. This time it was Thomas Gravesen playing the role of provider but Beckham's chip shot went just wide of the Galaxy goal.

The chances kept on coming and Hartman was forced to come up big on a couple Roberto Carlos blasts from long range. About 30 minutes into the half Carlos teed up a patented left foot shot that knuckled mercilessly towards Hartman forcing the 'keeper to make an awkward lunging save. Hartman came up huge again on the ensuing corner punching away a free header from Francisco Pavon.

Madrid created several more scoring chances and Owen wasted a golden opportunity in almost netting his second goal of the night. Sent in alone from midfield he found himself in open space with Hartman rushing out well off of his line. Owen sent a long chip in towards the Galaxy goal but again the shot went wide.

While it can be said that Real Madrid dominated possession with their technical ability on the ball the Galaxy did manage a few brave forays into their guests defensive third.

Just minutes after Owen opened the scoring it was the Galaxy that jumped into the attack. Galaxy striker Jovan Kirovski split a pair of defenders and then sent a long through ball along the turf in the direction of Cobi Jones. Jones was in behind Roberto Carlos but Real Madrid and Spain's No. 1 'keeper Iker Casillas sprinted off of his line and barely beat Jones to the ball.

In the 38th minute the Galaxy showed off a little bit of their technical ability. After a series of passes that went through at least a half a dozen Galaxy players Herculez Gomez wound up with an open shot from just inside the penalty area. The young striker who's been on a tear in league play recently got his shot on frame but it was right at Casillas.

Surprisingly the home side went in to the lockers well within reach of the Spanish giants. With the result still in question neither side made any changes at halftime despite the liberal substitution rules that were agreed upon before the game.

Just as the second half was beginning Gomez was the danger man again for Los Angeles unleashing a wicked shot from outside the area. The shot went wide but brought a spark into an already very lively crowd.

The Galaxy kept taking it to Madrid in the opening minutes of the second half. Tyrone Marshall earned a free kick from about 25 yards out and Kirovski stepped up to the ball and bent his shot over the wall and on frame. Only a diving save from Casillas kept the ball out of the net.

Soon it was the Spanish side that wrenched control back. In the 57th minute Roberto Carlos ripped a free kick from outside the area. Hartman made the save but left a rebound in front of his goal and in the mad scramble for the ball Madrid defender Pavon punched a weak shot wide.

Three minutes later Beckham took a free kick from the right side. His shot was uneventful at best going straight into the wall. But in the effort Beckham appeared to have tweaked a hamstring and left the contest minutes later.

Madrid made a pair of changes when Beckham left the match bringing on Luis Figo and Pablo Garcia. In the 67th minute Figo nearly doubled the score for the away side when he was sent in on a breakaway and tried to round Hartman but Hartman was equal to the task. Owen immediately followed up with his own shot but again Hartman's heroics saved the day to keep the Galaxy within a goal.

Then with a quarter-hour remaining second-half substitute Roberto Soldado teamed up with Figo for the second goal of the night. Figo laid the ball off setting up Soldado at the top of the area and his powerful shot from 18 yards was too much for Hartman as he was beat to the lower left corner.

The second half was actually a much more even affair than the first though the final 10 minutes belonged to Madrid. Soldado nearly doubled his tally late but headed a bouncing ball just over the bar.

The Galaxy sniffed around the Madrid penalty area but never really threatened and Real Madrid left The Home Depot Center with the expected result. But what might have been unexpected was the level of effort they had to put in to achieve it.

Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

Real Madrid vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
July 18 2005 -- The Home Depot Center

Scoring Summary:
MAD -- Michael Owen (Zinedine Zidane) 6
MAD -- Roberto Soldado (Luis Figo) 75

LINEUPS:

Real Madrid -- Iker Casillas (Diego Lopez 82) Roberto Carlos (Raul Bravo 68) Ivan Helguera Francisco Pavon Michel Salgado (Carlos Diogo 73) David Beckham (Pablo Garcia 61) Thomas Gravesen Jose Gutierrez (Ruben de la Red 78) Zinedine Zidane (Luis Figo 61) Raul Gonzalez (Roberto Soldado 70) Michael Owen (Jose Manuel Jurado 78).

Substitutes Not Used: Alvaro Arbeloa Ronaldo Diego Mejia Carlos Sanchez Juan Torres.

TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (4 tied with 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Roberto Carlos 3); FOULS: 15 (Francisco Pavon 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Raul Gonzalez 1 Roberto Soldado 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (David Beckham 1 Luis Figo 1); SAVES: 2 (Iker Casillas 2)

Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman Chris Albright (Troy Roberts 73) Todd Dunivant Ugo Ihemelu Tyrone Marshall Cobi Jones (Ednaldo Conceicao 55) Guillermo Ramirez (Alan Gordon 88) Peter Vagenas (Ned Grabavoy 79) Paulo Nagamura Jovan Kirovski (Michael Enfield 83) Herculez Gomez.

Substitutes Not Used: Mubarike Chisoni Steve Cronin Josh Gardner Guillermo Gonzalez Joseph Ngwenya Michael Umana Pablo Chinchilla David Johnson.

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Jovan Kirovski 3 Paulo Nagamura 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Jovan Kirovski 1 Herculez Gomez 1); FOULS: 14 (Paulo Nagamura 4); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2 (Michael Enfield 1 Jovan Kirovski 1); SAVES: 7 (Kevin Hartman 7)

Misconduct Summary:
LA -- Guillermo Ramirez (caution; Tackle from Behind) 4
MAD -- Thomas Gravesen (caution; Reckless Foul) 29

Referee: Ricardo Valenzuela
Referee's Assistants: Steven Davidson; Fabio Tovar
4th Official: Ramon Hernandez
Weather: Clear-and-67-degrees
Attendance: 27000