This is what Jose Mourinho means when he talks about the difference between the Champions League and the Europa League.
The difference between the best club on the continent and teams aspiring to play at that level. The difference, right now, between Real Madrid and Manchester United.
His old club deservedly became the first club to win back-to-back UEFA Super Cups in 27 years, just as they have successfully defended the European Cup under Zinedine Zidane.
Casemiro celebrates after putting Real Madrid ahead against Manchester United in the Super Cup at Philip II Arena
Sergio Ramos leaps on his Brazilian colleague after the midfielder’s well taken finish put the Spanish side in the ascendancy
Isco bends the ball United keeper David de Gea as Real took a two-goal lead in the Super Cup during the second half
The diminutive midfielder takes the acclaim from the crowd in Skopje after his goal in the second half of the contest
Romelu Lukaku is fired up after pulling United back into the game with his goal on the hour mark in the Super Cup
Ultimately it was not to be for United as Real held out under pressure to see out the game and win the Super Cup
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Real Madrid (4-4-2): Navas, Carvajal, Sergio Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Kroos, Modric, Bale (Asensio 74), Casemiro, Isco (Lucas 74), Benzema (Ronaldo 83).
Unused subs: Casilla, Nacho, Hernandez, Kovacic.
Bookings: Carvajal, Ramos
Goals: Casemiro 24, Isco 52
Manager: Zinedine Zidane
Man Utd (4-3-3): De Gea, Lindelof, Darmian, Smalling, Pogba, Lingard (Rashford 46), Ander Herrera (Fellaini 56), Mkhitaryan, Valencia, Matic, Lukaku.
Unused subs: Romero, Mata, Martial, Carrick, Blind.
Bookings: Lingard, Rashford
Goals: Lukaku 62
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Firenze)
Bale did not look like a player out of sorts in Spain and set up Madrid’s decisive second goal before hitting the bar.
Replacing Cristiano Ronaldo with Bale was the only change from the Madrid side that beat Juventus in the Champions League final in May, and they played like European champions here. United, on the other hand, look well short of that level.
Nemanja Matic had a solid competitive debut but another summer signing, Victor Lindelof, struggled again and Romelu Lukaku has significant room for improvement despite scoring the goal that gave United hope of an unlikely and undeserved comeback.
There is no doubt how much Skopje has embraced the first European final to be staged on Macedonian soil these past few days, and a 33,000 sell-out was a vindication of UEFA’s plans to take this fixture to more remote areas of the continent.
Having experimented with a number of formations in pre- season, Mourinho settled for 3-5-1-1 in the absence of the suspended Eric Bailly and Phil Jones.
It meant official debuts for Lukaku and Matic as well as Lindelof, whose unconvincing displays this summer included conceding a needless penalty against Madrid in Santa Clara last month.
The Swede didn’t look comfortable against Bale on this occasion either, but couldn’t be faulted for the lapse that almost presented his opponent with an opening goal after two minutes.
United fans were in good voice before kick off as they prepared to watch their team take on the Champions League winners
The Madristas were also vocal as they decked out their end of the Philip II Arena in their familiar all white
Real star Gareth Bale had an early chance at goal when he met a cross first time to send it goalwards but United survived
Dani Carvajal was in the thick of the action for the Spanish side down the right, here he tangles with Jesse Lingard
Marcelo’s cross from the left took a deflection off Henrikh Mkhitaryan and looped up dangerously towards the edge of the six-yard box. Both Matic and Paul Pogba left it and Bale stuck out his right foot to divert the ball narrowly wide.
More good work by the Welshman led to United conceding a corner in the 16th minute from which Real hit the woodwork. Pogba was unable to reach Toni Kroos’ cross and Casemiro got free of Matteo Darmian to rattle the bar with a close-range header.
Casemiro then blazed wide from Darmian’s poor back-pass before the Brazilian gave Madrid the lead in the 24th minute. He was hovering on the shoulder of Lindelof, perhaps marginally offside, when Dani Carvajal floated a pass over the top of the United defence. It was simple but very effective.
Victor Lindelof made his competitive debut for United at the heart of defence, here he beats Karim Benzema to the ball
Before his goal Casemiro had already given United a scare when he cracked a diving header off the crossbar after 15 minutes
Paul Pogba was stationed on the left of United’s midfield three, here the French star takes a pop at goal from distance
It was Real’s holding midfielder Casemiro who got the opener, sliding to meet Carvajal’s beautiful diagonal ball to score
Fellow Brazilian Marcelo was quick to celebrate with Casemiro after the midfielder had put Real on top in Skopje
While Lindelof was appealing in vain to the referee, Casemiro anticipated the flight of the ball and met it with a controlled, first-time finish with his left foot beyond David de Gea. It was no more than Madrid deserved after forcing United to defend deep and increasingly desperately after an encouraging start.
On the few occasions Mourinho’s side threatened in the first half, the chance was wasted through sheer carelessness. Pogba should have played in the unmarked Jesse Lingard rather than shoot from distance, and when Ander Herrera had the chance to go clear, Lukaku jumped in before him even though he was clearly offside.
Mourinho sent Marcus Rashford to warm up before replacing Lingard at half-time. But the tide continued to flow towards De Gea’s goal and he produced a fine save to turn away Kroos’ effort after he had been teed up by Bale.
Former Real and current United manager Jose Mourinho was less than impressed at seeing his side concede
The scheduled drinks break gave Mourinho the chance to try and rearrange his side in the face of a Real onslaught
United livewire midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan was left in agony following a crunching tackle from the goalscorer
It was United midfielder Jesse Lingard who got the game’s first booking for a foul in Isco late in the first half
The heat in Skopje was causing problems for the English side, here Lindelof tries to keep cool with a squirt of water
Lukaku was a little isolated up front in the first half but beat Ramos to a header at goal late in the opening period
United new boy Nemanja Matic made his United bow but the Real midfield were giving their opponents a tough night
The former Tottenham star was again the provider when Real increased their lead in the 52nd minute.
Again there was a sublime simplicity to the build-up as Isco took a pass infield from Karim Benzema and played the ball to Bale. The return pass was timed and weighted to perfection, playing in Isco behind the United defence. He took one touch and slipped the ball past De Gea.
Lukaku was guilty of a horrible miss, blazing over from less than 10 yards out after Navas could only palm Pogba’s header from a Herrera cross straight to him, before he fired United back into the game in the 62nd minute.
Marcelo had a big chance to double the lead just before the second Real goal but Chris Smalling did enough to deflect it wide
Bale and Pogba are two world football’s biggest names, here they battle for the ball in the air during the Super Cup final
Isco was star man during his time on the pitch and it was he who doubled their lead less than 10 minutes after the break
Bale congratulates his team-mate after the goal to make it 2-0 to the Spanish at the Philip II Arena in Macedonia
Lukaku holds up his hands after missing a big chance to pull United back into the game with a close-range effort
Real boss Zinedine Zidane bellows instructions from the touchline as he watches his side take on United in Skopje
Bale had just crashed an effort against the underside of the bar when Matic drilled a shot from the edge of the box. Again Navas couldn’t hold it and Lukaku turned the loose ball home.
Rashford should have equalised with nine minutes left but scuffed his shot and allowed Navas to save. Extra-time, though, would have flattered United, and it took a stunning save by De Gea to deny Marco Asenio late on.
Real have their fourth UEFA Super Cup and Mourinho is still waiting for his first. That will not bother him nearly as much as trying to make up the difference between these two clubs.
Lukaku did get his goal, making the last 30 minutes a far more interesting encounter, with his effort from six yards out
Lukaku grabbed the ball from the back of the net and raced back to the halfway line after pulling his side back into the game
Second half substitute Marouane Fellaini was involved in a painful second-half clash of heads with Real captain Ramos
The Belgian midfielder had to be patched up and finished the game with a bandage around what looked a serious cut
Marcus Rashford came off the bench and made a big impact but missed a big chance to level the game in the 81st minute
Cristiano Ronaldo spent most of the contest sat on the bench at the Philip II Arena but came on to the pitch late on
The Portuguese star did not get much time to make an impact but caused a few problems after his late introduction
The result saw Real win their fourth UEFA Super Cup and Mourinho is still waiting for his first win in the season opener