Real Madrid got their defence of their Champions League crown underway in the best possible way on Wednesday evening as they swept aside AS Roma 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Julen Lopetegui’s men were frustrated throughout the majority of the first-half as they created numerous opportunities but could not find a breakthrough. That was until Isco hit a stunning free-kick home in on the stroke of half-time. The pattern of the game continued after the break but victory was not finally confirmed until Gareth Bale struck on the break mid-way through the second period. Mariano Diaz put the icing on top of the cake in the final minutes with a stunning effort, his first since his move to Madrid.
Real carve through Roma in the opening period
Gareth Bale passed up a wonderful opportunity to open the scoring in the early minutes as he was put through by an excellent, lofted ball from Toni Kroos. The Welshman controlled expertly and aimed for goal with his next touch but put his fierce effort wide of goal.
Los Blancos continued to carve out chances as Luka Modric played a wonderful first time past to Isco. However, the Spaniard could not get past Robin Olsen in the Roma net. The rebound fell to Bale but Daniele De Rossi produced a wonderful challenge to deny the forward.
Isco free-kick finally gives Los Blancos the lead
Roma really struggled to get out of their own half throughout the first period as Marcelo and then Carvajal also put efforts off target. Olsen had to be at his best as Real captain Sergio Ramos thundered a header towards goal from a corner but the Swedish goalkeeper managed to just tip the ball over the crossbar. He also denied Isco as he tried to find the bottom corner from just outside of the area.
Just as the visitors looked as though they would frustrate the hosts throughout the first-half, Real finally claimed the lead right on the stroke of the interval. De Rossi fouled Isco on the edge of the penalty area, picking up a booking in the process. It was the Spaniard who stepped up and stroked the ball into the back of the net with a stunning effort from the resultant free-kick that left Olsen flat-footed.
Bale wastes huge opportunities for hosts
Surpisingly, it was Roma and Cengiz Under who created the first opportunity and forced an early save out of Keylor Navas with a spectacular drive from distance.
Real were to waste another golden opportunity though as they broke from a corner. Karim Benzema crossed to Bale but he could only put the ball wide after the Frenchman’s cross went just behind him. The former Tottenham Hotspur man was then hugely unfortunate to strike the bar after he was picked out by Marcelo. Modric then almost scored on the stretch as he was somehow picked out by the irrepressible Isco but he again could not beat Olsen.
Real finally get their second
The second goal did eventually come and it was manufactured by a stunning counter-attack. With Roma advanced up the pitch, Modric played Bale through with the Welshman using his considerable pace. He sprinted beyond the Italian side’s defence and struck clinically into the bottom corner.
Mariano marks debut with stunning strike
Despite wasting numerous opportunities, Lopetegui will be thrilled at the performance of his team. Their attacking play was exhilarating against Roma and they could well have been on the scoresheet far more. They begin their defence of the Champions League with a great win.
However, Roma will be disappointed at their inability to threaten despite the huge task presented to them. They now play Viktoria Plsen on matchday two, whilst Real will play CSKA Moscow.
Real Madrid: Navas (7); Marcelo (7), Ramos (7), Varane (7), Carvajal (6); Modric (7) (Ceballos (N/A), 85′), Casemiro (6), Kroos (7); Bale (8) (Mariano (7), 73′), Benzema (7) (Asensio (7), 62′), Isco (9).
Roma: Olsen (8); Kolarov (7), Fazio (6), Manolas (5), Florenzi (6); De Rossi (7), Zaniolo (5) (Pellegrini (6), 54′), N’Zonzi (6) (Schick (6), 69′); Under (7), Dzeko (5), El Shaarawy (5) (Perotti (6), 62′).
Goals: Isco (45′), Bale (58′), Mariano (90+1′)
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers
Yellow Cards: Ramos (23′), De Rossi (44′), Dzeko (76′)
Red Cards: N/A
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