August 22, 2019
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Roma downs Real Madrid in friendly match shootout

International Sports Desk, Aug 11 (efe-epa).- Real Madrid brought its pre-season to a close against Roma, battling to a 2-2 draw in regulation time and then ultimately losing to the Italians 4-5 in a penalty shootout.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane put Gareth Bale into the lineup for the first time in the team's last four preseason matches at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

This was the Spanish team's seventh and last pre-season match before the start of the La Liga season next weekend when Madrid goes up against Celta Vigo, but Bale had played in only the first three outings, always coming off the bench.

After the match, Zidane said that "Bale and James are Real Madrid players. Anything can happen until Aug. 31 but we're counting on all the players," referring also to James Rodriguez, who is thought to be on the verge of leaving the squad and did not even serve as a substitute for the Sunday match.

Zidane also sidestepped a question about Neymar's potential move from Paris Saint-Germain to Real Madrid saying of Los Blancos: "We're here with the squad we have and we're only thinking about that."

It has been rumored that Real Madrid is better positioned to acquire the Brazilian striker than Barcelona, although it appears at this point that he's more likely to head to the Catalonian squad.

Bale had been looking into moving to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning in July, but that possibility came to nought and he was back in the Madrid lineup against Roma, although he only played for the last 30 minutes or so, after all the regular-time goals had been scored and ultimately had little impact on the course of play. He did, however, hit his penalty shootout attempt.

He had failed to play at all during the team's wins over RB Salzburg and Fenerbahce and their defeat to his former club, Tottenham, in the preseason and Zidane had indicated that he was not being factored into Real Madrid's plans for this year.

On Sunday, the Spanish squad gave one of its best efforts of the preseason, in which they have racked up a two-win, two-draw and three-loss record, at the end of regulation time.

Marcelo drove a shot-on-goal home in the 16th minute with a great right-footer after a very nice drive, but Diego Perotti evened things up in the 34th minute, tapping one into the net following a premier effort by Nicolo Zaniolo.

Casemiro put Madrid back in the driver's seat just five minutes later, heading the ball past the Italian goaltender after an assist from Marcelo, but Edin Dzeko brought things level once again just a minute later, capturing Cengiz Under's fine pass and knocking it into the top right corner of the net.

In the penalty shootout, Bale scored but Marcelo missed the very last of the 10 shots, his effort hitting the crossbar thus giving Roma the victory.

The Italians kick off their Serie A season on Aug. 25 going up against Genoa at home.

Lineups:

Roma: Pau Lopez; Florenzi (Spinazzola, m.62), Fazio, Juan Jesus, Kolarov; Pellegrini (Diawara, m.62), Cristante; Cengiz Under, Zaniolo (Antonucci, m.76), Perotti (Kluivert, m.67); and Dzeko (Schick, m.76).

Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal (Odriozola, m.62), Varane, Militao, Nacho (Jovic, m.46), Marcelo; Casemiro (Kroos, m.62), Valverde (Vinicius, m.46), Modric; Hazard (Isco, m.71) and Benzema (Bale, m.62).

Referee: Michael Fabbri (Italy).

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