Real Madrid emerged triumphant in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game, defeating the league's brightest stars 4-2on penalties after the two finished 1-1 over 90 minutes.
A cool finish by Marcelo ended the exhibition affair and Luca Zidane helped his side edge the makeshift MLS side by denying Dom Dwyer on the first penalty.
Wednesday's match began with a star-studded MLS lineup taking on a younger Madrid, with the likes of Gareth Bale, Marcelo, and Karim Benzema on the bench. The MLS All-Stars suffered an early knock as Atlanta United left-back Greg Garzaexited the match with a separated shoulder, replaced by DaMarcus Beasley.
The first 45 minutes were riddled with some interesting decisions by referee Allan Chapman, who ignored two strong penalty shouts for Madrid. But apart from a David Villa effort in the 35th minute and a last-gasp shot by Sebastian Giovinco, the All-Star A-team failed to muster any real moments of danger.
Chicago Fire and All-Star boss Veljko Paunovic made wholesale changes for the second half, replacing every man apart from Ignacio Piatti, who came in for Jozy Altidore at the half-hour mark.
The second stanza saw Diego Valeri and Miguel Almiron combine strongly up top with Dwyer and Nemanja Nikolic. But Madrid drew first blood at the 59-minute mark as Dani Ceballos beat the MLS backline with a pass to Borja Mayoral, whose shot deflected kindly off a lunging Matt Hedges to open the scoring.
It was at this point that Zinedine Zidane looked to his bench and called upon his veteran players, including Bale, Marcelo, and Benzema, and the Spanish giant looked comfortable holding a 1-0 lead. But an 87th-minute corner kick swung in by Valeri eventually fell to a scrappy Dwyer, who tucked home the ball with a fortuitous header after Dax McCarty's initial effort hit the bar.
The match needed no extra time, though, and went straight to penalties, where the All-Stars failed to score on their first two attempts. Real Madrid on the other hand were clinical, and Marcelo finished off the tilt with a coolly-placed fourth spot-kick.
The victory is Real Madrid's first of the pre-season, just in time for the UEFA Super Cup against Manchester United on August 8.