Marcos Llorente, Joao Felix, Diego Costa scored to lead 10-time Spanish League champion Atletico Madrid to a 3-0 victory over top U.S. soccer tier Major League Soccer's best in the annual MLS All-Star game Wednesday night.
Llorente, signed from city rivals Real this summer for $42 million, scored in the 43rd minute and Felix and Costa came off the bench to score late goals in the rain-delayed match away before a sellout crowd of 25,527.
The MLS's best have faced international opponents 16 times in the All-Star Game. The past two years, Italian powerhouse Juventus and Spain's Real Madrid won on penalty kicks after the teams played to 1-1 draws through 90 minutes.
Wednesday night's game at Exploria Stadium — a 25,500-seat, soccer-specific facility that opened two years ago — culminated a week of related events thrusting Orlando into the soccer spotlight. The city also hosted the MLS All-Star game in 1998, attracting a crowd of 34,416 to the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Heavy rain sent fans scurrying for cover about an hour before the scheduled kickoff, which was delayed 34 minutes, and the showers continued for much of the match. Manager Diego Simeone's team controlled the tempo, outshooting MLS 12-1 in the opening half — with D.C. United's Former England captain and striker Wayne Rooney getting off the All-Stars' only attempt — a right-footed shot from outside the box that sailed over the top of the net in the 26th minute.
Llorente scored off a nifty pass from Rodrigo Riquelme, a 19-year-old midfielder who delivered the ball off his heel. Llorente finished with a shot that deflected off the hand of diving goalkeeper Andre Blake of the Philadelphia Union.
Swedish great Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the LA Galaxy was withdrawn after just 30 minutes. The MLS team was captained by leading scorer Carlos Vela of LAFC and included home favorite Nani.
James O'Connor, the Orlando City coach in charge of the All-Stars, completely changed his team at half-time, including withdrawing Rooney and Nani.
MLS had a couple of scoring chances early in the second half, however LAFC's Diego Rossi misfired on a right-footed shot from the left side of the net in the 47th minute and Atletico starting goalkeeper Antonio Adan made his only save when Seattle's Nicolas Loderio tried to score from the same area in the 55th minute. Atlanta's Ezequiel Barco was rejected on a free kick in the 80th minute and another opportunity ended with Chicago Fire's 34-year-old German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger's shot on a direct free kick veering just right of the net in the 82nd.
On 55 minutes, Simeone shuffled his pack by making seven changes of his own including introducing Felix, who was signed from Benfica this summer for $134 million.
Portuguese teen sensation striker Felix scored a brilliant second in the 85th minute to decide a match that failed to spark into action, a swathe of changes on both teams contributing to a decidedly low-tempo affair.
"I haven't seen too much of Joao Felix but... he looks like he has good technique," Rooney told AFP. "I'm sure he will be a good player for Atletico in the near future."
The Spanish side spent plenty of money betting Rooney is right.
"Of course it's a big price to pay for such a young player but that's the way the market is going now," Rooney told AFP. "Everyone is spending a lot of money.
"I remember a few years ago, Zinedine Zidane went for over $60 million and everyone was saying 'What's going on?' But that's the price you have to pay now."
Madrid manager Diego Simeone refused to single out any of his new players, including Felix.
"I've been pleased with all the new signings and the path we are going on during this pre-season," Simeone said.
Diego Costa's late third in the 93rd was no more than the visitors deserved.
The MLS select have now failed to win in the last four All-Star games with their last victory in 2015, 2-1 over England's Tottenham Hotspur.
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