TALLINN -- Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui said "experts" Atletico Madrid "punished" his team in a 4-2 extra-time loss in the UEFA Super Cup.
It was the first meaningful match for Los Blancos without Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane and the struggle looked real after the triple Champions League holders conceded twice in extra time to come out on the losing end against Atleti.
After falling behind to an early strike from Diego Costa, goals from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos put Real back into a familiar winning position against Atletico in European games but they uncharacteristically surrendered the lead.
Real looked stronger and slicker than Atletico for large parts of the game but failed to see it out, a marked contrast to many big matches under Zidane, when they would often snatch victory without playing particularly well.
After the match, Lopetegui told reporters: "A final is typically won by the team who capitalises on circumstances and Atletico are experts in doing that and they deserved to win.
"We aren't happy with the result, it's not normal for us to concede four goals and we need to improve. I insist that we played well, but they punished us with their goals."
Lopetegui endured a tumultuous summer after being sacked as Spain coach on the eve of the World Cup and faces an unenviable task in following Zidane, who lifted a remarkable nine trophies in less than three years in charge of Real, including three consecutive Champions League titles.
But the coach said he was certain the team were still full of hunger to win silverware.
"It's true they have won a lot but we have to focus on the season without thinking about what has happened in the last few years," added Lopetegui.
"We have to get the most out of the team and start to lift ourselves up now and start thinking about a league season which we are very excited about."
Real lost stability in midfield when Casemiro was forced off due to injury and four minutes later Costa grabbed his second goal of the game to make it 2-2.
Above all, though, Real were lacking a talismanic figure like Ronaldo, their all-time top scorer who last month ended a trophy-filled nine-year stay at the Santiago Bernabeu to join Italian champions Juventus.
Real's only signings have been defender Alvaro Odriozola, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and Brazilian teenager Vinicius Jr. The team starts La Liga play against Getafe on Sunday.