Ronaldo scores twice to lift Real over PSG in Champions League last 16 play
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal in each half as Real Madrid came from behind to defeat Paris SaintGermain 3-1 in their first-leg match in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.
PSG struck first with a goal by Adrien Rabiot, but Ronaldo equalized by converting a penalty kick just before halftime and added to the lead in the 83rd. Marcelo sealed the victory three minutes later to give the two-time defending champions a commanding lead heading into the second leg in Paris on March 6.
PSG showed its strength against the European champions, playing well in an exciting backand-forth match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium, but Madrid’s late goal significantly hurt its chances of finally succeeding in the Champions League.
This was PSG’s first major test since the Qatari-funded club spent a record €222-million ($345.5-million) to get Neymar from Barcelona with the aim of becoming a major force in European soccer.
Madrid, a 12-time Champions League winner, has won the tournament in three of the past four seasons.
Ronaldo reached 101 Champions League goals in 95 matches with Madrid, a record for a player with the same club. He has 11 goals in seven Champions League matches this season.
Madrid had appeared in control but PSG opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with Rabiot’s shot from inside the area on a play that involved all three PSG forwards. Kylian Mbappé started it with a run on the right side, then Edinson Cavani smartly let the ball through after Mbappé’s cross into the area and it ended with Rabiot after Neymar’s attempt was deflected by a defender.
Not long before the goal, Ronaldo squandered one of the game’s best chances in a one-on-one situation with Alphonse Areola, his shot hitting the goalkeeper’s face. Ronaldo also missed a few minutes later, sending a close-range shot over the crossbar.
But he was perfect from the penalty spot just before halftime after Toni Kroos was gently pulled inside the area by Giovani Lo Celso, the young midfielder who was a surprise addition to the starting lineup in place of Lassana Diarra.
Areola dived the correct way – to his right – but wasn’t able to stop Ronaldo’s firm shot. Areola had just made a brilliant save on Karim Benzema’s well-placed strike from just outside the area.
It was PSG that was in command in the second half, creating most of the significant chances, but Ronaldo struck again by scoring the go-ahead goal with his knee after Areola parried a low cross by substitute Marco Asensio. It only got better for Madrid when Marcelo scored from inside the area after another cross from Asensio from the left side.
LIVERPOOL THRASHES PORTO
PORTO, PORTUGAL Liverpool put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 5-0 away rout of Porto in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Sadio Mané scored a hat trick and Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino provided the other two goals to give the Premier League side a huge advantage ahead of the second leg at Anfield on March 6.
A mistake from Porto goalkeeper Jose Sa allowed Mané’s shot to squirm under his body after a slow start from the visitors, and Salah displayed all his class to make it 2-0 four minutes later inside the first half-hour.
The home side showed promise after the break, but was caught on a counterattack when Sa saved Firmino’s effort, only to push the ball toward Mané’s feet. The Senegal striker needed no second invitation for his second goal.