'They're just that good'

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:50 PM ET

You could say Real Madrid took Toronto FC to school for Spanish class last night, but in the time it takes to fool about at recess the lesson was absorbed.

If TFC didn't enjoy the 5-1 result -- with three Madrid goals in a memorable 13-minute stretch of the first half -- the sold-out crowd at BMO Field certainly did.

"They're just that good," Toronto captain Jim Brennan said. "They show the gap (in talent) wherever they go; here, Norway, England, it doesn't matter."

With a lineup worth more than the GNP of some Third World nations, Los Galacticos didn't go full bore, but gave a record BMO Field crowd of 22,089 their money's worth. This was the same score in Real's first visit to Canada in 1961, when its stars beat Toronto City in Vancouver.

If there were any chance for Toronto FC to cause Madrid grief, it came in the first 12 minutes when Dwayne De Rosario found himself alone against Iker Casillas and was stopped.

Real then slipped into gear with three picture goals. Raul led off by taking a blocked Kaka shot on his left foot and calmly flicking it under Stefan Frei's bar.

Then came the moment everyone hoped for, some Cristiano Ronaldo magic at the end of some surgically skilled passing by the visitors. After Real won a ball in the air, Ronaldo and Karim Benzema played some give and go, with Ronaldo finishing beautifully.

Looking dour most of his two days here, the crown jewel of the cash-crazy Galacticos displayed no emotion at first, then faced the south end crowd and did a quick fist pump to their delight.

When he was called off in the 63rd -- coach Manuel Pellegrini was obligated to play him for only 45 minutes, as he did with Kaka and Pepe --Ronaldo received one final standing ovation.

Ronaldo's goal set the table for Raul's second of the night in the 26th minute, exchanging headers across the box with Christoph Metzelder. Benzema had his own goal after Ronaldo exited.

"You see them on TV all the time and you know their moves," TFC defender Marvell Wynne said. "But when they do it, they do it so well that it's almost unstoppable.

"Sometimes, you're just shocked at their movement on and off the ball. When they lay off you, you're saying: 'We're actually competing, we might be able to do something'. Then they surprise you and score five."

TFC didn't promise miracles in this game. In fact, after losing out in the CONCACAF Champions League last week, it was already looking past last night to a return to regular season MLS play and pursuit of its first playoff berth.

TFC's great moment came with the score 4-0, when little used Canadian sub Gabe Gala and O'Brian White were rewarded for their hustle, Gala getting a rebound on backup Real goalie Jerzey Dudek for what will be a lifetime memory.

Arjen Robben finished up Madrid's scoring on Brian Edwards.

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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