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Real Madrid Squeaks Past Santos Laguna In Las Vegas

Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira scored in each half to give a 2-1 win over Mexican club Santos Laguna in a friendly on Sunday in Las Vegas.The Mexican champions offered a lot more competition for Madrid than what the LA Galaxy had in what what a competitive game.

It has been a long time since “Sin City” has seen a marquee team like Real Madrid and the 29,152 fans in attendance seem to enjoy the game despite the 102 degrees at kickoff.

Madrid started with an attacking trio of Ronaldo, Özil and Higuaín, but their goal in the 14th minute came from midfield via a sensational Xabi Alonso strike from outside the area.

After that goal it looked like Real Madrid might put together another explosive offensive performance, but Benjamín Galindo’s side held on and eventually pulled a goal back against the run of play that shifted momentum in their favor.

With space to exploit on Madrid’s right flank, Daniel Ludueña picked out a streaking Suárez, who drove into the penalty area, shifted the ball from his right to his left and slammed a shot past Casillas at the near post to even things at 1-1.

From there, Santos took their turn applying pressure. Gomez had two chances in quick succession, but his attempt to catch Casillas off his line was well over goal and he couldn’t find the back post after latching onto a through ball behind the Madrid backline. Suárez also went wide after Darwin Quintero picked him out with a diagonal ball from right to left.

At halftime, Mourinho made the predicted wholesale changes, sending on a new 11 that included Kaká, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Khedira and Lass Diarra, while Santos stayed with the same lineup that finished the first half.

Almost immediately, Benzema and Kaká began combining to great effect, with the Frenchman sending a point-blank effort over the bar before forcing a diving save from Santos ‘keeper Oswaldo Sánchez with an effort from the top of the 18-yard box. He also played creator, finding José María Callejón unmarked in the box, but the 25-year-old struck his shot directly at Sánchez.

Just six minutes later, Khedira scored the goal that separated the sides. After a Madrid corner floated all the way to Benzema at back edge of the penalty area, the forward whipped a cross across the six-yard box that Sánchez dove to parry. Unfortunately for Santos, he deflected it directly into Khedira’s face, and it ricocheted into the back of the net.

Quintero had a chance to even things for Santos, but his chip was directly into the body of Real substitute goalkeeper Antonio Adán, forcing the Torreón side to settle for a narrow defeat.

Real Madrid will continue their preseason tour with a game against at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday followed by a match vs. Celtic in Philadelphia on Saturday.