Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th Champions League goal as Real Madrid beat Paris Saint Germain 3-1 on Wednesday evening at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Madrid No.7 netted in the final minute of the first-half from the penalty spot as he cancelled out Adrien Rabiot’s 33rd minute opener. He struck again late in the game to complete the turnaround before Marcelo scored only minutes later to add gloss to the result and relieve the pressure on manager, Zinedine Zidane.
Frantic start in Madrid
The home crowd were soon on their feet and baying for a penalty as Toni Kroos went down under Yuri Berchiche’s challenge. The referee was unmoved however. The German midfielder then tried his luck from the edge of the area but Alphonse Areola got behind his curling shot.
As Real Madrid began to dominate the game, Cristiano Ronaldo twice had the chance to open the scoring for the hosts. He first put a free-kick just over the cross bar before racing through and hitting a powerful drive straight into the face of the PSG goalkeeper. Sergio Ramos also had an excellent opportunity from a corner but his header fell harmlessly into the hands of Areola.
Rabiot snatches the lead against Real
With just over ten minutes of the first-half remaining, Adrien Rabiot netted somewhat against the run of play. Isco gave away a free-kick on the left-hand side with Mbappé being released almost immediately. The young Frenchman whipped the ball into the box which was excellently dummied by Edinson Cavani. Neymar flicked the resultant loose ball to Rabiot who smashed into the net past Keylor Navas.
It only took ten minutes however for Zinedine Zidane’s men to equalise. Following a quick corner, Kroos was again brought down in the penalty area, this time by Giovani Lo Celso. Gianlucha Rocchi awarded the spot-kick, with Ronaldo duly stepping up and powerfully blasting home on the stroke of half-time to notch his 100th goal in the UEFA Champions League.
Fast pace continues in second half
All concerns that both sides would settle after the break were soon dismissed. Kylian Mbappé combined well with Neymar but the former could only put his low shot straight at Madrid stopper, Navas.
Rabiot could have had his second of the game only minutes later as he collected a cross from Dani Alves and struck towards goal. The ball rebounded off of Real captain, Sergio Ramos and deflected away. Zidane attempted to claim the lead by introducing Gareth Bale for Karim Benzema mid-way through the second-half.
All to play for in the second-leg
Sergio Ramos had to be alert from a corner as PSG defender Marquinhos found space in the box. The Brazilian turned and shot towards goal but an excellent toe from the Madrid captain kept the scores level.
The French giants continued to threaten and Lo Celso found space on the left-flank to put in a teasing, low cross. Neither Alves or Mbappé were able to prod home though.
Ronaldo the hero for Real again
Unai Emery’s men were still under-threat from Los Blancos and Gareth Bale was unlucky to see his close-range attempt be deflected away for a corner.
Their concerns were justified within the last ten minutes as Ronaldo struck late to claim the win for the reigning European champions. Substitute Marco Asensio played a key role as he dribbled towards the by-line. The Spaniard put in a low cross that was cut out by Areola but unfortunately bobbled up to Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar kneed the ball into the net in unorthodox fashion from only yards out to send the Santiago Bernabeu into raptures.
Marcelo stretched the advantage only minutes later as Asensio again found space out-wide. His cross fell to the Brazilian full-back and he hammered it high into the roof of the net to secure a valuable first-leg advantage for Real Madrid.
This game was billed to be a glittering display of European football, and it certainly did not disappoint. Both teams attacked with the vigour of potential European champions and there could well have been more goals than only the four seen on the night.
It was Real’s superior finishing however that secured the victory, whilst Unai Emery will be disappointed with his team’s slack defending, especially for Marcelo’s strike.
The European champions all-but have their place in the quarter-finals secure with the focus now switching to the return leg at the Parc de Princes at the start of March.
Real Madrid: Navas (7); Marcelo (7), Ramos (7), Varane (7), Nacho (6); Kroos (8), Casemiro (7) (Vazquez (N/A), 79′), Modrić (7); Isco (7) (Asensio (7), 79′), Benzema (6) (Bale (6), 68′), Ronaldo (7).
Paris Saint Germain: Areola (6); Berchiche (6), Kimpembe (7), Marquinhos (7), Alves (7); Rabiot (7), Lo Celso (6) (Draxler (N/A), 84′), Verratti (6); Neymar (7), Cavani (6) (Meunier (6), 66′), Mbappé (7).
Goals: Rabiot (33′), Ronaldo (45′ PEN, 83′), Marcelo (86′)
Referee: Gianlucha Rocchi
Yellow Cards: Neymar (14′), Lo Celso (25′), Isco (33′), Rabiot (64′), Nacho (78′), Meunier (90′)
Red Cards: N/A
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