Benitez suffers frustrating Real Madrid debut in Melbourne

Reuters , Saturday 18 Jul 2015

Benitez starts his mission at Real Madrid with a loss to AS Roma

Napoli coach Rafael Benitez reacts during their Europa League group I soccer match against BSC Young Boys' (YB) at the Stade de Suisse stadium in Bern October 23, 2014 (Reuters)

Rafa Benitez kicked-off his tenure as Real Madrid boss with a frustrating 7-6 penalty shootout loss to AS Roma in a pre-season friendly on Saturday.

With both teams goalless at full-time in front of a crowd of 80,746 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the International Champions Cup match was decided by penalty shootout and Seydou Keita slotted the winner after a miss by Lucas Vazquez.

Roma had the better chances in a goal-less first half and were denied an opener after three minutes when Daniele De Rossi hit the crossbar with a right-footed shot from the centre of the box.

Gareth Bale fired a shot over the bar three minutes later before Sergio Ramos, wearing the captain's armband after the recent departure of long-serving goalkeeper Iker Casillas, also chipped over from a corner kick in the ninth minute.

Casillas' replacement in goal, Keylor Navas, was forced to make a fine save in the 30th minute, leaping to his right to put a glove on a Salih Ucan volley after the shaggy-haired Turk latched onto a corner kick from Totti at the far post.

Searching in vain for a first goal as the half wound down, Bale tried an audacious bicycle kick in the area after Ramos lobbed the ball in but the Welshman succeeded only in fouling defender Ashley Cole.

Bale rose again for a header eight minutes after the break but his effort flashed just right of the near post from a Ramos corner and he came off soon after.

Karim Benzema, who replaced Cristiano Ronaldo at the break, then squandered a gilt-edged chance from the centre of the box after the hour-mark when his wild left-footed shot soared high and wide after a pinpoint cross from Russian winger Denis Cheryshev.

The match ended in a flurry of shots, with Bale's replacement Lucas Vasquez stepping inside a defender before being denied by a fine save from keeper Bogdan Lobont.

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