Hercules 1-3 Real Madrid: Benzema Brace Seals Friendly Triumph

Oezil makes little impact in debut...
Real Madrid had to come from a goal behind in their final pre-season warm-up game against a plucky Hercules but eventually ran out comfortable winners with Karim Benzema netting two either side of an Angel di Maria goal in the second half.

Jose Mourinho's new look Merengues side was without a number of key first team personnel and it showed in the early stages as they failed to get to grips with the game against their newly promoted hosts.

In fact a tame effort from Fernando Gago was the best Madrid could muster in the opening period and los Herculanos were fully deserving of their half time lead given the intensity of their effort.

The only goal of the half went to the hosts six minutes before the interval and it was a woeful giveaway from a defensive viewpoint. From a seemingly straightforward set piece veteran midfielder Sendoa was allowed to ghost into the 18 yard box unchallenged and got enough purchase on the inswinging delivery to guide it past Adan, who didn't exactly cover himself in glory challenging for the ball in the air.

Mourinho reacted by removing the inexperienced custodian at the break and replacing him with Jerzy Dudek in one of six half time substitutions for los Merengues.

Hercules coach Esteban Vigo opted to stagger his changes, making five switches in as many minutes, perhaps in a bid to disrupt Madrid's rhythm early in the second half.

Two men with supposedly contrasting futures at the Bernabeu, Mesut Oezil and Rafael Van der Vaart, alternated for Madrid as both sides continued to make changes.

Ten minutes after the restart Madrid were level as one of Mourinho's half time switches, Pedro Leon, made a fantastic run down the right and when his cross was headed clear to centre field German midfielder Sami Khedira lofted an exquisite ball over the top of the advancing Hercules defence to leave Benzema in acres of space and the French striker made no mistake, drilling a low drive to the corner of the net from 12 yards.  

Madrid gradually took control of the tie and lead fifteen minutes from time as di Maria bursted clear of the Hercules rearguard, stepped one side of the advancing 'keeper and virtually strolled the ball into the net for a fine solo effort.

Six minutes later Benzema completed the victory firing home from 15 yards after a well timed pass from Esteban Granero.

Pedro Leon was needlessly sent off after the restart for a foul on Olivier Thomert but it proved a comfortable win for Madrid in the end with the likes of Leon, Khedira and Benzema giving coach Mourinho plenty of food for thought ahead of the season opener against Mallorca next weekend. 

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