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Real Madrid 2-1 Manchester United: Reds fall short in UEFA Super Cup

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United played well at times, but Madrid were just too good.

Real Madrid v Manchester United: UEFA Super Cup Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Real Madrid defeated Manchester United 2-1 to claim the UEFA Super Cup, with goals from Casemiro and Isco making the difference. United set up in the 3-5-2 formation that José Mourinho may prefer for the bigger games this season, but looked anything but defensively solid for long stretches. Madrid started well in the opening moments, with United target Gareth Bale winning a corner before poking an effort just wide.

United grew into the game over the next several minutes, but it was Madrid who came closest to drawing first blood, as Casemiro’s header struck the crossbar following another Madrid corner. United almost punished their opponents straightaway from the resulting counterattack, but - after leading the break - Paul Pogba could only hit his shot against a defender.

Casemiro would get his goal ten minutes later. After a lovely chipped pass from Daniel Carvajal, the Brazilian beat United's offside side trap to steer the ball past David de Gea into the far corner. Casemiro may have been marginally offside, but Victor Lindelöf was far too slow to react.

United looked out of sorts after conceding, and the first half hydration break at the 30 minute mark - due to the heat in Skopje - was a chance for Mourinho to re-organize his players. Not much changed in the last fifteen minutes of the half however, as Madrid continued to look like the better side. United did manage to get forward kn a few occasions, but the only shot on target of the first half was a tame Romelu Lukaku effort in the 45th minute.

Mourinho recognized the need for change, and sent Marcus Rashford on in place of Jesse Lingard, changing to a 4-3-3 system. Straight away though , United were on the back foot again. De Gea was called into action to parry a Toni Kroos shot before Marcelo hit the side netting a minute later.

It wasn't long before Madrid doubled their lead. Isco beat United's defense far too easily and made it 2-0. United should have pulled one back immediately after, but when Pogba's header was saved by Keylor Navas, Lukaku inexplicably fired over.

Mourinho then made another change in an attempt to get United back into the game, sending on Marouane Fellaini for the ineffective Ander Herrera. Fellaini’s first touch was a dribble and pass straight out of play.

Bale then nearly made it 3-0, but his powerful shot couldn't beat the crossbar. Just after the hour mark though, United struck back. The impressive Nemanja Matić hit a good shot that Navas could only parry into Lukaku's path, and United's new number 9 buried the rebound.

United grew in confidence after that, and won their first corner after 70 minutes. Rashford had begun to unsettle the Madrid defense, and Zinedine Zidane responded by sending on young attacking duo Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.

After an extended stoppage follwong a clash of heads between Fellaini and Sergio Ramos, Rashford nearly equalized, but his shot was deflected wide. The resulting corner came to nothing, but Marcelo went close for Madrid from the ensuing counter attack. The game was now lively on both ends, and then on came Cristiano Ronaldo to a rapturous reception.

While United were much better after their goal, Madrid were by no means laying down. Lucas Vazquez bamboozled Matteo Darmian, and only a brilliant De Gea save kept out Asensio’s shot.

In the end, United put up a decent fight, but Madrid’s superior quality told.