KEIR RADNEDGE in MONTE CARLO: Radamel Falcao – the man ignored by transfer window chasers – demonstrated his ability to rip Premier League defences to shreds by scoring a first-half hat-trick in a Supercup walkover for Atletico de Madrid against Chelsea here.
The Spanish team – faster in foot and thought – won deservedly by 4-1 with centre back Miranda having joined in the fun on the hour before Gary Cahill pulled one goal back for the misfiring European champions. The defeat matched the beating a weakened Chelsea side took at the end of last season just before their Champions League win in Munich.
This game was the last for the UEFA European SuperCup in the petit Stade Louis II in Monaco; next season it transfers to Prague then on to Cardiff and subsequently Tbilisi.
The Premier League leaders had intended to wrap up European football’s Monaco match mission neatly since they had won the first Supercup staged in the principality when they beat the other Madrid club, Real, in 1998.
Man of the match Falcao, however, had other ideas.
In the third minute, after a left-wing raid, the Colombian rapped a close-range shot against Petr Cech’s bar. Then, after a further three minutes, he burst through the defensive cover, feinted past Cech and chipped the opening goal beyond David Luiz’s despairing clearance attempt.
Arda Turan headed wastefully wide in the 16th minute but it mattered little. In the 19th Falcao found space on the edge of the penalty box on the right and, in a virtual carbon copy of one of his magnificent goals in last season’s Europa League Final, he curled a left-foot shot around Cech’s flailing right hand and just inside the far post.
One minute before half-time the brilliant Turan was at it again, racing at the Chelsea defenders who – like mesmerised rabbits – all stared vacantly at the ball and left a huge gap on the right into which Falcao strode to slide home the goal which completed one of the most remarkable hat-tricks of even his goal-strewn career.
Falcao was the Europa League’s title-winning top scorer in 2010-11 when he collected a European club record 17 goals, including the winner for Porto in the all-Portuguese final against Braga in Dublin. He then moved to Atletico for E40m and top-scored again in the same competition with 12 goals last term including two in the final against Bilbao in Bucharest.
Atletico’s old striking hero, Fernando Torres, could do nothing but watch in both despair – and probably grudging admiration – at the wealth of opportunities available at the other end of the pitch.
Torres himself hardly ever saw the ball, let alone a glimpse of goal though he did create a little space for himself in the 5oth minute but, lacking support and with rapacious defenders closing in, pulled a hasty shot wide across the face of a goal and Thibaut Courtois.
That was no more than a brief respite from the punishment being handed out at the other end as Turan continued pulling the strings, like a master puppeteer, and even centre back Miranda joined in the fun, jabbing home goal No4 from close range on the hour.
Opposite number Cahill thumped home a Chelsea consolation in the 74th minute. At least he had the right sense of direction: in the last minute fellow centre-back David Luiz stabbed the ball against his own post and was fortunate to see the ball rebound out of danger.
Atletico fans applauded and cheered Torres generously during the presenta6ions. They could afford to be generous.
Chelsea: Cech – Ivanovic, Cahill, David Luiz, Cole (Bertrand 88) – Mikel, Lampard – Ramires (Oscar 46), Hazard, Mata (Sturridge 83)– Torres.
At. Madrid: Courtois – Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Filipe Luis – Mario Suarez, Gabi – Adrian Lopez (Cristiano Rodriguez 56), Koke (Raul Garcia 83), Arda Turan – Falcao (Emre 87).
Referee: Skomina (Slovenia).
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