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Job done as Real ease past Belarus minnows

SoccerNews in La Liga, UEFA Champions League 17 Sep 2008


As expected record nine-time European champions Real Madrid defeated Belarus unknowns BATE Borisov 2-0 in the Champions League Group H opener at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

In a David versus Goliath contest the latter came out on top with a first Champions League goal from Sergio Ramos and a strike from Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy helping Real collect the three points.

Real have won back-to-back league titles but have not advanced past the last 16 stage since 2004 and their coach Bernd Schuster is under pressure to have an impact on this season's competition after crashing out to Roma at the first knockout stage last season.

“It was my first goal in the Champions League which is great for me but the main positive is that we won,” said Ramos.

“We have to concentrate on the league now and then there is the big game at St Petersburg. You can't afford to slip up in this competition if you want to go all the way.”

BATE was always going to be an easy obstacle but Real's next group match is a tough trip to Russia to face UEFA Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg on September 30.

Captain Raul, the all-time top-scorer in the Champions League with 61 goals, returned to the Real team after recovering from a heel problem and joined van Nistelrooy in attack.

Ramos came back in defence and Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart made his Champions League debut for Real.

BATE had worked their way through all three qualifying rounds and their debut could not have been much more difficult.

The visitors kicked off and their nerves – for most of them this was the biggest game of their lives – showed as a misdirected pass went straight out of play.

With just six minutes gone Guti, a three-time Champions League winner with Real, should have scored but his chipped effort went wide.

The former Spanish international quickly made amends though sliding a terrific 10th minute pass to Ramos, who slotted the ball home.

BATE goalkeeper Sergei Veremko was peppered with shots as van Nistelrooy and Raul drove fierce efforts narrowly wide.

Fernando Gago hobbled off injured on the half hour mark so Schuster introduced Mahamadou Diarra in defensive midfield.

Real had conceded five goals in their first two league matches but the defence was comfortable against the visitor's blunt attack.

Although Borisov rarely threatened Real must have seen Romanian debutants CFR 1907 Cluj defeat Roma 2-1 on Tuesday and wanted a second goal to avoid the chance of a similar upset.

The home crowd were demanding more goals and on 56 minutes van Nistelrooy struck bundling the ball in after Raul's effort was well saved.

Minutes later BATE defender Anri Khagush was sent off for two bookable offences.


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