Champions League: Real Madrid beat AS Roma 2-0 with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese
Gent lost 2-3 at home to Wolfsburg in the other Champions League tie
Real Madrid beat AS Roma 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night to take a lead in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie. Second half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese were enough to give Zinedine Zidane a win over Luciano Spalletti.
AS Roma: Wojciech Szczsny, Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas, Antonio Rudiger, Lucas Digne, William Vainqueur, Miralem Pjanic, Mohamed Salah, Radja Nainggolan, Stephan El Shaarawy, Diego Perotti
Real Madrid: Keylor Navas, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Isco, James Rodriguez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema
First Half: Neither side get clear cut chances
Roma kicked things off in the first half and Florenzi was in the thick of the action in the first few minutes. He managed to get a cross into the box as early as the second minute but a deflection saw Navas hold on to the ball. The Roma right-back and captain for the night then needed medical attention after a Marcelo cross hit him in the back of the head. Although he looked to have been injured, he was able to continue and put in a good shift in the first half.
Seven minutes into the half, Ronaldo tried his luck from over 35 yards out after the referee blew the whistle for a free-kick following a foul from Vainqueur. Although his shot was low and quick, it was also wide of the target.
It was Zinedine Zidane’s side who kept most of the possession in the first 45 minutes. However, Roma were still trying to create chances with Salah, El Shaarawy and Perotti working well together. Off the ball, though, Roma had all their men back.
At the half hour mark, Real almost scored a picture-perfect goal. Ronaldo managed to find Marcelo on the left with a superb chip and the Brazilian full-back took a first-time shot, volleying it towards goal. The shot looped up and dipped before whizzing past the far post with Szczesny beaten.
It was the defence who rose to the occasion in the first half as attempts on goal from either side were thwarted one after the other. El Shaarawy and Pjanic had chances to score while at the other end Benzema and Ronaldo were denied.
The final minute saw El Shaarawy race into the box on the left and just as he looked set to pull the trigger Varane came to Real’s rescue and put in a well-timed block to prevent a shot on goal.
Half-time: Roma 0-0 Real Madrid
Second Half: Ronaldo and Jese win it for Real Madrid
Both sides were quick off the blocks in the second half. Nainggolan managed to find some space near the right but had no support. A tame shot from distance only saw Ramos concede a corner which eventually came to nothing.
James Rodriguez then became the next player to literally shed some blood for the cause when he tried to get on the end of a lob from Ronaldo. Although the Colombian was offside, the flag stayed down and Rudiger’s attempted high boot clearance was successful but clipped Rodriguez’s ear on the follow through.
Roma had a chance to open the scoring when Florenzi’s diagonal ball up the pitch was superbly controlled by El Shaarawy who broke into Real Madrid’s box. But Navas was on hand to close down the angle and parry the shot away.
Ronaldo finally broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when Ronaldo sprinted down the left flank after he was released by Marcelo. The Portuguese forward then quickly cut back in with a tricky back-heel to evade Florenzi and then curled a shot past the outstretched arms of Szczesny. It took a slight deflection off a recovering Florenzi on the way but found the top corner of the net nonetheless – Ronaldo’s 12th goal in the competition this season and a crucial away goal.
Roma then took El Shaarawy off for Edin Dzeko while Zidane replaced Isco with Mateo Kovacic. Dzeko made a nuisance of himself in Madrid’s half, constantly threatening to either score or cause problems in the box. His first shot saw Ramos make a mess of a clearance allowing Nainggolan to set up Salah but his shot was too weak.
The Bosnian striker then set up Vainqueur outside the box and the French midfielder let fly a thunderous shot that only curled away from the right top corner. Dzeko then came close to raising the roof off the Stadio Olimpico with a shot from six yards out but the acute angle saw him only hit the side-netting much to the home crowd’s disappointment.
Roma then had a penalty call denied when Florenzi was floored by Carvajal inside the box but the referee did not budge. Minutes later, Real added insult to injury when Jese, who had come on for James, received the ball and dribbled down the inside right with Digne marking him. Jese suddenly took a quick snapshot that outfoxed the defence and left Szczesny with no chance to make the save as the ball found the left bottom corner to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
Ronaldo was soon replaced by Casemiro as Zidane decided to shut shop and ensure he got a first win in the Champions League. Even though Francesco Totti came on as a late substitute for the Italian side, three minutes of added time was simply not enough to score a consolation goal.
Gent 2-3 Wolfsburg
In the other Champions League fixture, Bundesliga side Wolfsburg scored three away goals to beat Belgian side Gent 3-2. Julian Draxler had opened the scoring late in the first half before doubling his tally nine minutes into the second half. Max Kruse then made it 3-0 with half an hour to go.
Gent mounted a comeback with two goals in the 80th minute and 89th minute from Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly but they were unable to erase the deficit and have it all to do in the second leg.