Cristiano Ronaldo handed Jose Mourinho a winning start to his reign as Real Madrid manager by firing in a trademark free-kick to beat Mexican side Club America 3-2 on Wednesday.
The victory was somewhat overshadowed, however, by the announcement that Brazilian midfielder Kaka will miss up to four months for the Evens La Liga contenders after undergoing surgery for the torn mensiscus in his knee.
Mourinho was taking charge of his first Los Blancos match after moving from Inter Milan earlier in the summer and will in the main be pleased with what he saw.
19-year-old Real debutant Sergio Canales opened the scoring, before Enrique Esqueda and Vicente Sanchez put the Mexican team ahead.
Gonzalo Higuain equalised after being set up by Ronaldo and then the Portuguese forward turned scorer, rocketing in dead-ball from the corner of the 18-yard box.
A raft of high profile players were absent from the match, notably the five members of Spain’s World Cup-winning side – Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol and Alvaro Arbeloa.
In the main, Mourinho was happy with the victory. “We don’t want to win games in pre-season, we want to win in the regular season, and this is good practice,” he said.
With the club confirming Kaka’s length of time out today, Real’s chances of overhauling Barcelona (4/5 to win La Liga) this season appear slimmer.
Certainly Mourinho’s options for their opening league match of the season away to Mallorca on August 29th are slightly more limited, but the new boss isn’t worried. “If we lose him for some time it’s no drama, we have other players and that’s it. But he’s one of the best players in the world.”
After six consecutive seasons of exiting the Champions League at the round-of-16 stage, Mourinho’s main goal is success in the premier competition in Europe, though.
Having won it with Porto in 2004 and Inter last year, the ex Chelsea manager appears the best man to make good odds of 4/1 for Real to win the Champions League.
Again it’s Barcelona who Real must topple according to the Champions League betting market, with the Catalans the 3/1 favourites to win the trophy they last claimed in 2009.