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Friday, July 30, 2004

Real downs JEF Utd

Staff writer

Real Madrid cruised past a game, but thoroughly outclassed JEF United Ichihara 3-1 at Tokyo National Stadium on Thursday night.

News photo
Real Madrid midfielder Guti scores his side's first goal in the exhibition match against JEF United Ichihara at Tokyo's National Stadium. Real won 3-1.

Goals by Guti, Raul and Santiago Solari sealed the win for Real after JEF United had taken a shock 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.

Real coach Jose Camacho was pleased with his team's effort.

"The humid conditions made it tough out there but we learnt a lot from the game," he said. "In the first half there was too much distance between our players but in the second half we improved. This is exactly the goal of preseason games -- to find our problems and work on them."

Real rested playmaker Zinedine Zidane and goal-machine Ronaldo and was caught napping when JEF United's Marquinho drilled in a spectacular 30-meter free-kick that had a full-stretch Iker Casillas grasping at thin air as the ball sailed into the back of the net.

The small contingent of JEF United fans among the crowd of 51,000 -- the majority of whom showed up purely to see icon David Beckham in action -- sensed an upset but their hopes were short-lived as Real's domination of possession and superior quality soon took its toll.

In the 23rd minute, a superbly weighted through ball by Luis Figo found Guti bursting through the middle. Guti outstripped the Ichihara defense and sidefooted the ball past 'keeper Ryo Kushino who was slow to move off his line.

Kushino had, minutes earlier, pulled off a stunning save from a fierce drive by Walter Samuel.

Real's movement off the ball was impressive against a JEF side content to sit back and defend in an attempt to keep the score respectable.

This strategy backfired and in the 36th minute, JEF's defense was caught ball watching as the influential Guti strode into JEF territory before laying off to an unmarked Raul just inside the area. Raul took his time to bend a left-footed shot that was never going to miss, sinking into the top corner of the net.

The second half provided significantly less entertainment than the first as the crowd kept their collective eyes glued to the every move of star attraction Beckham.

Although "Becks" failed to get his name on the scoresheet, he did manage to display his impressive range of passes and showed plenty of commitment.

JEF had two great chances to equalize in the final 15 minutes. Sandro forced a great save from Casillas -- who had an opportunity to dust the cobwebs off his gloves -- after a shot from point-blank range.

Ten minutes later it was Ivan Helguera who came to the rescue of Real when he scrambled the ball off the line after an effort from second-half substitute Takenori Hayashi.

All that was left was for Real to finish off the game in style in the final minute when Santiago Solari bundled the ball home from close-range after an apparently overweight Miguel Salgado had forced his way to the byline and sent in a low cross.

JEF coach Ivica Osim was in awe of Real Madrid's performance.

"Real is a great team, there is nothing new about that. No words can describe how good they are," he said.

"The fans should feel privileged to have witnessed such a classy team in action. They know how to play football and that is to keep it simple."

Inamoto to return

OSAKA (Kyodo) Japan midfielder Junichi Inamoto will rejoin J. League club Gamba Osaka after a loan spell at English Premier League side Fulham, Gamba President Izumi Sano said Thursday.

Inamoto's parent club Gamba recently received a document from Fulham saying the English club has given up on a plan to acquire Inamoto from the Osaka club on a full transfer deal, Sano said.

Gamba and Fulham failed to reach a transfer agreement for the 24-year-old Inamoto due to a big gap in the valuation the English Premier League club place on him and the reported $4.6 million Gamba want for a permanent transfer.

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