Cristiano Ronaldo on the ball for Real Madrid at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai. Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Real Madrid suffered their first defeat since September with a 4-2 loss to AC Milan in the Dubai Football Challenge at The Sevens Stadium here on Tuesday.

Jeremy Menez and Stephan Al Shaarawy put Milan two up before Cristiano Ronaldo thrilled the sell-out crowd by pulling one back for Real Madrid after the half hour.

Al Shaarawy added his second just after the interval and Giampaolo Pazzini made it 4-1, before Karim Benzema added a consolation from the penalty spot before the final whistle.    

Luckily for Real, the match was just a friendly and doesn’t jeopardise their attempt at breaking the world record for most consecutive wins in all competitions. Real are currently on 22 wins in a row, just two short of the record set by Brazil’s Coritiba in 2011. But it remains to be seen what affect this loss could have on their momentum.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, attended the match and was joined by Real Madrid President Florentino Perez.

Despite the disappointment for Real’s fans, the game had everything. And the entertainment was added to by world No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic, who received the second half match ball from skydivers who parachuted into the centre circle at the break. The Serb then proceeded to do some impromptu kick-ups with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.  

Real Madrid donned gold badges on their trademark white jerseys for the first time, symbolising their new-found status as world champions, having claimed the Fifa Club World Cup with a 2-0 win over Argentina’s San Lorenzo in Morocco last week.

Milan’s Giacomo Bonaventura should have put Milan ahead inside the first quarter, but he failed to get his head on Riccardo Montolivo’s cross and instead clashed heads with Real’s Raphael Varane.  

Real retorted when Sami Khedira played Javier Hernandez into the box, only for the Mexican’s first touch to lead him aimlessly wide. Isco chipped in a follow-up, which was badly handled by Diego Lopez, but eventually cleared by Philippe Mexes.

AC Milan went ahead on 24 minutes, when Menez intercepted a weak back pass from Nacho to round Madrid keeper Keylor Navas for the easiest of tap-ins.

Montolivo sent a long shot painstakingly wide in the follow-up after a Bonaventura cross was punched clear by Navas. But Bonaventura made up for it seconds later, setting up Al Shaaraway on the edge of the area as the latter breezed in the second just after the half hour. 

Ronaldo pulled one back four minutes later after running onto Jese’s pass and slotting inside the near post from his first touch on the edge of the area.

Ronaldo was taken off among a raft of substitutions at the interval, with Bale, James Rodriguez and Benzema coming on for Real, while Michael Essien was AC Milan’s most notable addition.

But it didn’t change the outcome for Los Blancos, as Al Shaarawy added his second and Milan’s third after the break, when Dani Carvajal slipped and Andrea Poli supplied Al Shaarawy inside the box.

Jese’s shot took a deflection and came back off the post for Real soon after.

Pazzini added a fourth for Milan, nodding in a free header from Mbaye Niang’s cross on 73 minutes. Real’s only consolation came from the spot through Benzema after Niang brought down Nacho in the area.