MELBOURNE • Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to shrug aside reports of differences with manager Rafael Benitez, as he came up with a dazzling performance in Real Madrid's 4-1 win over Manchester City before a record crowd in the International Champions Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) yesterday.
City's new signing Raheem Sterling impressed too, earning a penalty, which was converted by Yaya Toure. But the English Premier League (EPL) club's other new purchase Fabian Delph could not produce anything as noteworthy, as his debut ended with a suspected hamstring injury.
World footballer of the year Ronaldo showed his sublime skills and was among the scorers as Real demolished the 2014 EPL champions in a blistering first-half performance before 99,382 fans.
The turnout was the MCG's biggest for a football event.
The 10-time European champions revelled in the atmosphere, opening up City with dazzling touches, flicks and clinical finishing for three goals in the first half.
French striker Karim Benzema put the Spanish side ahead in the 21st minute by hooking in Gareth Bale's cross over his left shoulder in a brilliant piece of finishing.
Ronaldo pounced four minutes later, getting a sublime first touch to bring down Toni Kroos' long pass before poking home, as goalkeeper Joe Hart was unable to keep the ball from crossing the line.
It got worse for City when unmarked central defender Pepe scored Real's third with a thumping header off Isco's corner just minutes before half-time.
Deep in first-half stoppage time, City got a penalty for a Sergio Ramos' hand-ball as he jostled with Sterling. Manchester United target Ramos remonstrated with Japanese referee Hiroyuki Kimura that Sterling had handled the ball first.
Toure slotted home the spot-kick for City to trail 1-3 at the break.
Denis Cherychev made it four for Real when he stabbed home an Isco cross with 17 minutes left.
"It has been a very good time here," Real manager Rafael Benitez, celebrating his first win in charge of the La Liga glamour side since replacing Carlo Ancelotti, said. "Really pleased with everything. Every day, our physical condition is a little bit better.
"The team was playing with intensity, aggression."
The International Champions Cup may not take pride of place in the Spaniard's trophy cabinet but Benitez was pleased with his forwards' ruthless demolition of a City side missing three leading central defenders.
City had very little to take away from the match, with Delph's injury a cause for worry.
That followed Eliaquim Mangala's withdrawal before the match due to illness, joining centre-backs Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis on the sidelines.
The midfielder, who signed from Aston Villa after making a U-turn over his switch to City last week, lasted less than 20 minutes after a tussle with Luka Modric resulted in him being stretchered off the pitch.
City will now face an anxious wait to determine the severity of the injury, with their opening EPL match against West Bromwich Albion just over two weeks away.
"We knew before the game that it was difficult to play against a team that has such good attackers with three missing central backs," coach Manuel Pellegrini said.
Hart said afterwards that he is confident City will become stronger and fitter for the start of the season. He is not reading too much into the "disjointed" performance.
"It's pre-season at the end of the day. We can't get too wrapped up in the result," he told Sky. "A lot of us haven't had many minutes and we're still missing the South American guys so we're still going to get stronger and fitter for the start of the season."
But the City goalkeeper was impressed with the performance of Sterling. He was well contained by Ramos before he was substituted midway through the second half.
"He got a bit of treatment but that's what he's going to get," said Hart. "You fully expect him to bounce off players but he gets up and keeps going and he's going to be a great player."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN