RON­ALDO LEADS REAL TO WIN

Millennium Post - - FRONT PAGE -

MADRID: Cris­tiano Ron­aldo wasted no time in show­ing Real Madrid what they have been miss­ing dur­ing his fiveg­ame do­mes­tic sus­pen­sion, by scor­ing twice as the hold­ers be­gan their Cham­pi­ons League de­fence with a rou­tine 3-0 win over APOEL Ni­cosia on Wed­nes­day.

Ron­aldo, banned for push­ing a ref­eree af­ter be­ing sent off in the first leg of the Span­ish Su­per Cup, opened the scor­ing af­ter just 12 min­utes from Gareth Bale’s low cross.

The Por­tuguese dou­bled his tally from the penalty spot be­fore Ser­gio Ramos’s over­head kick rounded off the scor­ing.

Real move to the top of Group H along­side Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur, who ended their Wem­b­ley hoodoo with an im­pres­sive 3-1 win over Borus­sia Dort­mund.

Ron­aldo de­scribed the length of his ban as “per­se­cu­tion” on the part of the Span­ish foot­ball fed­er­a­tion and his ab­sence has been felt by Real in prof­li­gate per­for­mances in be­ing held at home by Valencia and Le­vante.

Real boss Zine­dine Zi­dane ad­mit­ted that the club’s fail­ure to re­place Al­varo Mo­rata had left his strik­ing op­tions lim­ited, par­tic­u­larly in the ab­sence of Karim Ben­zema through a ham­string in­jury.

How­ever, with Bale ex­celling back on the left, Ron­aldo filled that void as he swept home at the back post from the Welsh­man’s cross.

Ron­aldo then headed into the side-net­ting from a simi- lar po­si­tion from an­other Bale de­liv­ery mo­ments later.

Real suf­fered an in­jury set­back mid­way through the half as Ma­teo Ko­vacic limped off to be re­placed by Toni Kroos.

And the hosts’ rhythm was dis­rupted as they strug­gled to cre­ate more clear-cut chances against the dogged Cypriot cham­pi­ons be­fore the break.

Ron­aldo thought he had dou­bled his tally a minute into the sec­ond half as his vol­ley from Dani Car­va­jal’s pin­point cross came off the un­der­side of the bar, but didn’t cross the line de­spite his protests.

Madrid’s luck turned mo­ments later when Roberto Lago was very harshly pe­nalised for hand­ball from Bale’s de­flected cross and Ron­aldo smashed home the re­sult­ing penalty.

Ron­aldo showed his hunger for more goals as he re­trieved the ball from the net and raced back to the half­way line.

How­ever, it was Ramos who struck next in ac­ro­batic fash­ion from point-blank range.

Ron­aldo thought he had bagged an eighth Cham­pi­ons League hat-trick when he swept home Luka Mo­dric’s cross, but was de­nied by the off­side flag as Real had to set­tle for three as they be­gan their quest for a 13th Euro­pean Cup.

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