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Felix shines as Atletico Madrid blank MLS All-Stars

photo by AP photo

Orlando City midfielder Nani (17) moves the ball past Atletico Madrid midfielder Vitolo (20) during the first half of an MLS All-Star soccer match in Orlando, Fla on Wednesday.

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02nd-Aug-2019       
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AFP, Orlando :
Portuguese teen sensation Joao Felix came off the bench to score a superb goal Wednesday as Atletico Madrid blanked the Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Stars 3-0 at rain-soaked Exploria Stadium.
Marcos Llorente, signed from city rivals Real this summer for $42 million, had put the Spanish side ahead in the first half before 19 year-old, $134 million striker Felix scored a brilliant second to decide a match that failed to spark into action, a swathe of changes on both teams contributing to a decidedly low-tempo affair.
Diego Costa's late third was no more than the visitors deserved.
Los Angeles Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovich was withdrawn after just 30 minutes and despite Wayne Rooney's best efforts in the first half, it was the La Liga side that was far superior.
Inclement weather in the Orlando area delayed kickoff before a sellout crowd for 40 minutes but the rain failed to dampen an excellent atmosphere for the North American league's annual exhibition match.
The MLS All-Stars, captained by leading scorer Carlos Vela of LAFC, boasted the likes of DC United's Rooney, Ibrahimovich and home favorite Nani in their starting line-up.
Rooney, the former Manchester United and England forward, was operating in a deep lying midfield role and saw plenty of the ball in the opening stages without being able to penetrate the Spanish team's defense.
Atletico created the first real opportunity, Rodrigo Riquelme firing high and wide on 17 minutes following good work from Vitolo, while Rooney saw a brilliantly struck effort from 30 yards whistle just over the bar.
Ibrahimovich, who had barely touched the ball, was withdrawn on 30 minutes, much to the disappointment of the 25,527 spectators who hoped to see the mercurial Swedish superstar in the action.
Atletico's opening goal on 43 minutes was a superb team effort, Riquelme brilliantly back flicking the ball to Llorente, who drove the ball past Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
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.
It was one of the substitutes, Diego Rossi, who almost equalized when his close-range effort hit the side netting before Nicolas Lodeiro was denied by Atleti keeper Antonio Adan.
On 55 minutes, Madrid manager Diego Simeone shuffled his pack by making seven changes of his own including introducing Felix, who was signed from Benfica this summer, and his superb long range effort in the 84th minute sealed a comprehensive victory.
Costa made it three at the death from close range.

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