AS Roma welcomed Real Madrid at Stadio Olimpico in the Champions League round of 16 which ended in utter disappointment for the home side as Los Blancos claimed a 2-0 victory courtesy of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese.
Uneventful first half of the game between AS Roma and Real Madrid offered not much excitement for the anticipating crowd at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
With not much to separate the two sides as AS Roma and Real Madrid tested the waters in the opening stages of the game.
The hosts were the first ones to test their luck after 17 minutes when Diego Perotti passed the ball to Stephan El Shaarawy, whose shot inside the box went high over the bar.
Perhaps the most notable thing in the first half was Cristiano Ronaldo, who was all smiles from the beginning. Ronaldo’s skills lit up the poor first half as the Portuguese showcased some serious footwork in a couple of occasions much to the irritation of the home supporters.
Having been irritated himself at the press conference prior to the game, Real Madrid star made sure to answer his critics in style.
Ronaldo linked up with Marcelo at the half-hour mark, but the Brazilian shot the ball just wide of the right post, which was the last opportunity before the interval.
The Portuguese star hit the stage in the second half as well and it was thanks to his wonderful curler in the 57th minute that Real Madrid cracked open AS Roma’s defence and took the lead into the game.
Ronaldo, who hadn’t scored an away goal in all competitions since the end of November prior to the game in Rome, cut in to the edge of the box weaving his way past the opposition and unleashed a magnificent effort which went inside the right post.
Cristiano ran straight to Zinedine Zidane to share his excitement with Real Madrid manager and his move was interpreted as another sing of the positive atmosphere that has been restored with the arrival of the French legend.
Ronaldo has tonight scored his 89th Champions League goal and has celebrated the feat in style.
Real Madrid’s goal opened up the match as AS Roma changed their formation to 3-4-3 in their attempt to strike back through Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy, but their attempts were futile.
The Italians did have a great chance to level the score on 72 minutes when William Vainqueur latched on a ball from Edin Dzeko, who replaced El Shaarawy on the hour mark, but his powerful strike went that close to the right post.
It was a golden opportunity for AS Roma, who attempted to get back in the game through Pjanic only five minutes later. The Bosnian playmaker attempted a shot from inside the box, but the ball went just wide of the left post.
Real Madrid keeper was busy in the 83rd minute when Mohamed Salah went one-on-one with Keylor Navas, who reacted excellently to deny the shot.
Keylor Navas has had a great night in Rome as this was his seventh clean sheet in as many Champions League matches this season. The Costa Rican has made 13 saves and is really making a name for himself between the sticks for Real Madrid.
And just as it usually happens in football, AS Roma were punished for their wasted chances.
Digne was caught off-guard as he allowed super sub Jese to make a superb run down the right and fire a strike from inside the penalty area. His precise shot went into the bottom left corner of Wojciech Szczesny’s goal for 2-0 and a huge away win.
Real Madrid are taking a two-goal advantage into the second leg of their Champions League elimination tie with AS Roma at the Bernabeu as Zinedine Zidane made his managerial Champions League bow with a victory.
AS ROMA: Szczesny 6 – Florenzi 6.5 (Totti 6), Manolas 7, Rudiger 6.5, Digne 6 – Pjanic 6.5, Vainqueur 6.5 (De Rossi 6), Nainggolan 6.5 – Salah 6, Perotti 6.5, El Shaarawy 6.5 (Dzeko 6).
Unused subs: De Sanctis, Falque, Keita, Maicon.
REAL MADRID: Navas 7 – Carvajal 7.5, Ramos 7.5, Varane 8, Marcelo 7 – Modric 7, Kroos 7, Isco 6.5 (Kovacic 6) – Rodriguez 7 (Jese 7), Benzema 7, Ronaldo 8.
Unused subs: Casilla, Danilo, Nacho, Lucas.
REFEREE: Pavel Kralovec
Other results this evening:
Gent 2-3 Wolfsburg