Madrid starts CL life af­ter Ron­aldo with easy win

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Sport -

REAL Madrid showed it can still com­pete in the Cham­pi­ons League even with­out Cris­tiano Ron­aldo.

In its first Cham­pi­ons League match with­out the star for­ward in nearly a decade, Madrid eas­ily dom­i­nated Roma to open its cam­paign with a com­fort­able 3-0 home win on Wed­nes­day.

Francisco “Isco” Alar­con, Gareth Bale and Mar­i­ano Diaz took care of the scor­ing in Ron­aldo’s ab­sence, se­cur­ing the vic­tory for the three-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

Mean­while, Ron­aldo, who joined Ju­ven­tus in the off­sea­son af­ter lead­ing Madrid to four Euro­pean ti­tles, played his first Cham­pi­ons League game with the Ital­ian club in Group H on Wed­nes­day and was sent off with a straight red card in the first half.

“Real Madrid will al­ways be Real Madrid, no mat­ter who leaves,” said Bale, who has scored 10 goals in his last 10 matches with the Span­ish club. “We keep on try­ing to win, keep on try­ing to score goals.”

It was a dis­ap­point­ing opener for Roma, which is com­ing off a semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ance last sea­son.

“We have to im­prove,” Roma coach Euse­bio Di Francesco said through a trans­la­tor. “We need more qual­ity and we need more per­son­al­ity.”

In the other Group G match, Czech club Vik­to­ria Plzen and CSKA Moscow drew 2-2 in Plzen.

Madrid dom­i­nated from the start and cre­ated most of the scor­ing chances through­out the game at San­ti­ago Bern­abeu Sta­dium. Roma goal­keeper Robin Olsen, re­plac­ing Alis­son Becker af­ter the Brazil­ian moved to Liver­pool in the off­sea­son, put on an out­stand­ing dis­play to keep the Span­ish hosts from scor­ing more goals.

But there was noth­ing Olsen could do on Isco’s free kick just be­fore half­time. The Swedish goal­keeper watched as the ball was ex­pertly curled over the wall and went in the far cor­ner.

“The team played a great match in all as­pects,” Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui said. “We cre­ated count­less chances and we clearly de­served to win.”

Bale al­most in­creased Madrid’s lead with a close-range shot that struck the cross­bar early in the sec­ond half but the Wales for­ward did make it 2-0 in the 58th with a well-placed low shot af­ter a su­perb through ball from Luka Mo­dric.

The third goal came in stop­page time with a nicely struck shot from out­side the area by Diaz, who had re­placed Bale in the 73rd. Diaz was given Ron­aldo’s No. 7 jersey af­ter re­join­ing the club in the off­sea­son.

Bale was the only player from Wed­nes­day’s lineup who hadn’t started for Madrid in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal nearly four months ago in Ukraine. His place was taken by Ron­aldo at the time.

In ad­di­tion to Ron­aldo’s de­par­ture, coach Zine­dine Zi­dane quit and was re­placed by for­mer Spain man­ager Julen Lopetegui.

It was the first time that Lopetegui didn’t opt to play with Marco Asen­sio up front along with Bale and Karim Ben­zema, although Isco was often near the at­tack­ers when Madrid held pos­ses­sion. Lopetegui also kept Key­lor Navas in goal de­spite the re­cent ar­rival of Thibaut Cour­tois, voted the World Cup’s best goal­keeper with Bel­gium.

It was a spe­cial night for 19-yearold Roma mid­fielder Ni­colo Zan­iolo, who made his pro­fes­sional de­but only two months af­ter be­ing signed by Roma. Zan­iolo re­cently helped Italy’s un­der-19 team reach the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nal.

Roma has high ex­pec­ta­tions in the Cham­pi­ons League af­ter mak­ing it to the last four last sea­son, when it lost to Liver­pool af­ter hav­ing elim­i­nated Barcelona in the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Madrid next faces CSKA Moscow in Rus­sia on Oct. 2, when Roma hosts Vik­to­ria Plzen. – AP

JE­SUS Due­nas scored twice to help Mex­i­can cham­pion Ti­gres UANL beat MLS cham­pion Toronto FC 3-1 on Wed­nes­day in the in­au­gu­ral Cam­pe­ones Cup.

The re­sult was a mea­sure of re­venge for the Mex­i­can squad, ousted by Toronto in March in the CON­CA­CAF Cham­pi­ons League quar­ter­fi­nals on away goals. Each team earned $240,000 for play­ing, with $100,000 go­ing to the win­ner.

“It wasn’t easy be­cause TFC has a good team and has good-qual­ity play­ers,” Ti­gres coach Ri­cardo Fer­retti said af­ter the match through a trans­la­tor.

Lucas Jan­son scored for Toronto on a penalty kick in the 86th minute.

Due­nas opened the scor­ing in the 36th minute af­ter Jun­inho floated the ball over the de­fense. Due­nas left Eriq Zavaleta and Gre­gory van der Wiel in his wake and, ig­nor­ing a chas­ing Michael Bradley, and beat goal­keeper Alex Bono to the near side with a left-footed shot.

Due­nas dou­bled the ad­van­tage in the 64th minute, lash­ing home a right-footed shot on a clear­ance from a cor­ner. Two min­utes later, sub­sti­tute En­ner Va­len­cia beat Nick Hag­glund down the flank and his cross went in off Zavaleta for an own goal.

Both teams have strug­gled lately. Ti­gres is sev­enth in the Mex­i­can stand­ings, and Toronto is 19th over­all in MLS.

“As has been too often the case, we have a few min­utes of mad­ness in the sec­ond half where the game gets out of reach,” Bradley said. “Those things are dis­ap­point­ing. But I think on the night there were still a lot of pos­i­tives, a lot of good things.” – AP

Photo: AP

Real mid­fielder Gareth Bale cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing his side’s sec­ond goal dur­ing a Group G Cham­pi­ons League soc­cer match be­tween Real Madrid and Roma at the San­ti­ago Bern­abeu sta­dium in Madrid, Spain on Wed­nes­day.

SPORT 18

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