David Beckham scored his first goal in the famous white of Real Madrid as his new team eased to a 3-0 victory over FC Tokyo at a damp National Stadium on Tuesday night.
It took Beckham and Real Madrid all of 37 minutes to get off the mark and it came off a typical Beckham free-kick special. A foul on the left edge of the penalty area provided Beckham with the opportunity to bend a free-kick around lunging FC Tokyo goalkeeper Yoichi Doi and into the back of the net.
“Obviously it was nice to get my first goal for Real Madrid in my second game,” said Beckham. “I enjoyed the game and we played some good football and got what we wanted out of the game.”
The goal also served to give Real some breathing space after the opening 30 minutes had belonged to the home side. In fact, if the scoreboard hadn’t pointed out that Madrid was playing in white and FC Tokyo in blue, it would have been difficult to distinguish which was the star-studded champion of Spain and which was the hard-grafting J. League side.
“We struggled with the wet pitch in the first half,” explained Real coach Carlos Queiroz. “But as the game progressed, we managed to adjust our tactics.”
On a slippery pitch it was clear from the outset that Real was keen on getting some practice without risking injury while FC Tokyo was intent on showing its opponents that it was no pushover.
In a predominantly neutral crowd, the FC Tokyo fans stood out with their persistent booing of the Real side and most surprisingly Beckham himself after being shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Yuta Baba.
Real Madrid, which started the game with Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Iker Casillas on the bench and Zinedine Zidane rested due to an injury, was caught off guard early on when a cross from Masashi Miyazawa was headed just wide by defender Teruyuki Moniwa.
This positive start seemed to lift FC Tokyo and it came close again in the 11th minute when lively forward Kelly intercepted a mistimed pass and lobbed Doi from near the halfway line. Fortunately for Real the lob had a little too much juice on it and it drifted over the bar.
As the half drew to a close Beckham switched with Luis Figo to the center of the pitch from the right and started to get into the game with some of his trademark sweeping passes and deft flicks. With a minute to go before the break, a through ball found Raul who offloaded to Figo whose first-time pass found Javier Portillo unmarked inside the box. Portillo’s fierce drive was spectacularly saved by Doi from point-blank range but the rebound found Santiago Solari on the left who calmly slotted the ball home.
With a 2-0 halftime cushion, Real brought on Brazilian stars Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo, and while the former thrilled the crowd with his trickery, it was Ronaldo who stole the show with a goal out of the top draw. Ronaldo had looked dangerous throughout the second half hitting the post with a left-footed shot in the 69th minute, but it took until the 88th minute for him to seal the game for Real 3-0.
Receiving the ball on the left corner of the penalty area, Ronaldo sent two Japanese defenders the wrong way with a touch from the back of his boot before making space to bury a right-footed shot into the net.
Real Madrid was slightly more relaxed and assured in the second half with Raul coming close on a number of occasions but FC Tokyo never allowed itself to drift out of the game completely.
Defender Moniwa looked solid at the back while midfielders Mitsuhiro Toda and Miyazawa were full of running.
FC Tokyo coach Hiromi Hara was happy with his team’s performance.
“We tried to make Real Madrid play their best. Conditions suited us more because we are in the middle of our season,” he said. “My players showed more motivation for this game than in the regular season.”
Ronaldo stressed that the game meant a lot to the Real team and was impressed with the FC Tokyo performance. “FC Tokyo is a good team and pressed us hard but they got tired toward the end.”
Even though it operated throughout the game on half a tank, Real’s class was always going to take its toll on the home side and a 3-0 scoreline turned out to be a reasonable result.
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