| Real Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane is challenged by River Plate’s Guillermo Pereyra at the Bernabeu on Tuesday. (AP)
Madrid: Real Madrid beat River Plate 3-1 at the Bernabeu on Tuesday in an entertaining match held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alfredo Di Stefano’s debut for the Spanish club.
A virtuoso goal from Santiago Solari and a neat double from Javier Portillo ensured Spanish champions Real of victory in the 25th edition of the Bernabeu Trophy, an annual invitation match named after the Real president who brought Di Stefano to the club.
Before the match the 77-year-old Argentine, who played for River at the start of his career, was presented with a commemorative plaque displaying replicas of the trophies he won as a player at Real. This included five European Cups and eight league championships.
Although Real rested several first team players for the match, several of Di Stefano’s modern-day counterparts were on show including Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Roberto Carlos.
Real have been impressed by Beckham’s “humility”, a word used by more than one Bernabeu inhabitant.
But appropriately enough it was former River Plate midfielder Solari who opened the scoring with a brilliant solo goal 10 minutes into the second half.
Beating one defender with a neat drag-back, checking his way past another and finishing off with a powerful close-range shot high into the net, the Argentine scored a goal worthy of the occasion.
Five minutes later reserve striker Portillo, who was deputising for the absent Ronaldo, headed in at the far post to make it 2-0 and then nodded in his second after a neat exchange of passes with defender Raul Bravo.
The Argentine champions grabbed a consolation goal 10 minutes from time when midfielder Luis Gonzalez rifled past ’keeper Cesar with a rasping shot from the edge of the area.
Di Stefano, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1926, moved from River to Colombian side Millionarios in 1948, and then joined Real five years later following a lengthy transfer tug-of-war with Barcelona.
He went on to transform Real Madrid’s fortunes, helping them to successive European Cup wins in the first five editions of the tournament from 1956 to 1960 and scoring in each of the finals.
The Argentine-born forward, who also helped steer the club to eight Spanish league titles, was named European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959 and was appointed honorary president of Real Madrid in 2000.