Roma dispatched as Ronaldo off in Juve win
ROME – AS Roma were humiliatingly thrashed by Real Madrid in their opening Champions League game, while 10-man Juventus managed to win in spite of Ronaldo’s red card.
After a run to the semi-final in last year’s competition, it was an unhappy return to the Champions League for Roma on Wednesday, as Madrid put in a consummate display to take a 3-0 win at the Bernabeu. 30 attempts, with 11 on goal, from the defending champions demonstrated the Spanish side’s dominance, as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos controlled the game from midfield.
Despite having the lion’s share of possession and chances in the first half, however, Madrid were left somewhat wanting in front of goal, as a series of clear chances went begging, many courtesy of Gareth Bale. It fell to Isco on the stroke of half time to break the deadlock, curling a beautiful freekick into the top corner from just outside the penalty area.
Their control over the game didn’t loosen by any means in the second half, as Bale finally converted a chance on 58 minutes. As Roma pushed forward for a corner in search of an equaliser, Madrid counter-attacked quickly. Modric played a perfectly weighted pass onto Bale’s favoured left foot, and he calmly fired home.
Madrid kept a high line throughout the second half, with Marcelo consistently overlapping from left-back, which gave Roma opportunities to score. However, they lacked quality in the final third and couldn’t find the back of the net.
Real’s pressure continued, and Olsen was called upon numerous times to produce a save, keeping the score-line respectable. But the Danish goalkeeper could do nothing about the third, as substitute Mariano scored a stunner in injury time, curling the ball out of reach into the far corner, sealing a comprehensive victory for Madrid.
Elsewhere in Spain, Juventus managed to overcome Valencia, despite spending two-thirds of the game with 10 men, after Ronaldo saw red in his first European fixture for the Old Lady. The Portuguese striker appeared to the grab defender Jeison Murillo’s hair as they fought for position in the penalty area. Ronaldo’s reaction spoke volumes, protesting the sending off, before leaving the field in tears. He currently faces a 3-game ban, which would see him miss both fixtures against his former club Manchester United.
Without Ronaldo, Juventus showed their resilience in defence, putting in a very organised display to see off the Spanish side. Two Pjanic penalties either side of half time ensured the Serie A champions got off to a positive start in the competition, as Valencia struggled to make their mark on the fixture.
Their discipline, however, may need to me addressed, as Ronaldo’s red follows Costa’s spitting incident at the weekend, for which he has now been given a four-match ban. Should they field a strong line up consistently though, they may well be on track to compete for a first Champions League trophy since 1996.