Real Madrid showed their European dominance and reminded a physically imposing
Manchester United side that there is a huge gap in technical quality, with a 2-1 victory in the UEFA Super Cup final, on a sweltering night in Skopje.
Brazilian international Casemiro opened the account for Los Blancos with a fine left-footed volley past Real Madrid target David de Gea, despite looking marginally offside.
After the interval, Spanish international Isco then doubled the lead following fantastic link-up play with Gareth Bale to put Real Madrid in the ascendancy.
However, the Red Devils were not finished as Romelu Lukaku pounced on a Nemanja Matić effort to create a tense finale in which Real Madrid claimed another European crown.
On an evening that was pushing the 40-degree barrier, Zinedine Zidane’s side started the brighter of the two with a dominating display of ball retention, making the Red Devils work hard in difficult conditions that required regular water breaks.
After the early stages consisted of Manchester United struggling to keep the ball in the first competitive match of the season, the game came to life when Casemiro should have put the La Liga champions in the lead inside 20 minutes. A Toni Kroos corner was met by the powerful head of the Brazilian midfield anchor, who easily lost marker Matteo Darmian to hit the crossbar.
It didn’t take long for the tall box-to-box midfielder to make amends for earlier sitter he missed as the former Sao Paulo star punished Jose Mourinho’s side for a lapse in concentration. A rare run into the opposition box paid dividends when the defensive stopper latched on to a fantastic Dani Carvajal pass to give Los Blancos the lead.
Following 35 minutes of constant pressure from Real Madrid, the Red Devils finally started to ask questions as £75m signing Lukaku pressed the 12-time Champions League winners. His physical presence nearly paid off just before half time as the Belgian target man rose highest to test goalkeeper Keylor Navas with a powerful header, which unfortunately failed to test the Costa Rican.
Los Merengues started the second half in the same fashion as Germany star and midfield linchpin Kroos tested De Gea with a fine shot from 25 yards out on his opposite foot, which the Spanish international had to claw away.
They then showed their class and why they are domestic and European champions with talented playmaker Isco cutting apart the Manchester United defence to double the lead.
A great through ball from Gareth Bale made the difference on the edge of the box with an excellent pass, which was coolly dispatched by the man who took his place in the Champions League final line-up.
Minutes later Manchester United nearly halved the deficit as Ander Herrera whipped in a cross that should have the Europa League winners back in the game. French star Paul Pogba was unmarked eight yards out, but headed straight at Navas in goal, with the misery compounded when Lukaku followed up the rebound by blazing his effort over the crossbar.
Gareth Bale should have put the game beyond doubt, but a thunderous shot cannoned back off the woodwork to give the Red Devils a glimmer of hope in a one-sided affair up to that point.
The English fans finally erupted with 30 minutes to go as two new signings linked up to give Manchester United hope. After fine build up play around the 18-yard box, recent acquisition Matić fired a low drive at Navas, which could only be parried into the path of Lukaku, who made sure on the second time of asking with a buried right-footed effort into the bottom corner.
Mourinho then tried to get his team back in the game with the introduction of the explosive Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini, with the latter coming close to making the game level after a clash of heads with Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos.
Ex-Manchester United player and Real Madrid legend Cristiano Ronaldo was finally introduced with 20 minutes to go against his former side, as the Portuguese star only recently returned to first team training following his exploits in the Confederations Cup.
Rashford then came close to the equalising after breaking through the back line. It took a fine stop from Navas, who managed to tip his left-footed effort around the post, to keep Real Madrid in the lead during the closing stages. In stoppage time Fellaini came close to creating a remarkable comeback with a headed effort, but Real Madrid held on to win their fourth Super Cup.