Ronaldo hits brace as Real Madrid beats Bayern Munich
It is not simply their sheer volume but also the timing of Cristiano Ronaldo’s scoring feats that make him one of football’s all-time greats, and he found the perfect moment here to end both the statistical anomaly of 11 Champions League hours without scoring and reach a century of European club goals.
His Real Madrid team should have been trailing by at least two goals at half-time after largely being out-played by Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich but, having first scored the equaliser, it was the trickery of Ronaldo that provoked both fouls that led to Javi Martinez’s red card.
Bayern were left facing 32 long minutes with only 10 men and, inevitably, it was then Ronaldo who pounced to give Real a second away goal and a clear advantage going into next Tuesday’s second leg at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo has now also beaten his great rival Lionel Messi (stuck on 97) to become the first ever player to reach the landmark of 100 European goals.
“He was happy in the dressing room but not fully happy because he had the chance to score the third too; he has so much ambition,” said Real’s manager, Zinedine Zidane.
His entire team are also aiming to create history in becoming the first to retain the European Cup in the current Champions League format, and they justified their tournament favourites status here in how they handled a Bayern team with the heavyweight pedigree themselves of reaching three of the past seven Champions League finals.
Real had been forced to demonstrate their defensive resolve early in the match and the turning point of the game – perhaps also the tie – was Artur Vidal’s missed penalty on the stroke of half-time with Bayern leading 1-0.
Real also had to absorb the second-half loss of Gareth Bale to a hamstring injury and it is unclear whether he will now be available for the return leg. As he walked out of the Allianz Arena with a slight limp, Bale indicated that he had felt only stiffness and was “OK”. Zidane seemed a little more concerned. “He felt something at half-time and we didn’t want to take a risk,” he said. “Now he is bad; we hope it’s not serious.”
|Ronaldo hits brace as Real beats Bayern Munich|
Bayern will certainly be without Martinez next Tuesday but Ancelotti is confident that Robert Lewandowski will have recovered from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss this match. With 38 goals already this season, Lewandowski has been more potent even than Ronaldo and, with Thomas Muller filling in through the centre, he was clearly missed.
Bayern had taken an early hold of possession but, with Bale soon influential, Real were more incisive and created the first chances. Bale demonstrated both his quick thinking and ability to launch a sudden attack with a throw-in by releasing Karim Benzema behind Bayern’s defence. The France striker crossed to tee up Toni Kroos but his shot cannoned out for a corner from which Benzema’s downward header was clawed onto the crossbar by Manuel Neuer.
It was the jolt that Bayern seemed to need and their midfield settled into a dominant passing rhythm. Franck Ribery had a powerful, volleyed shot deflected wide by Bale and, from Thiago’s corner that followed, Vidal surged into the penalty area and beat Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas with the sheer force of his header.
Ribery then turned to create space and referee Riccardo Di Fiore pointed immediately to the penalty spot when his shot was blocked by Nacho’s arm. Vidal went for power rather than precision and smashed the subsequent penalty well over Navas’s goal.
Ronaldo had been largely anonymous to this point but that all changed within two minutes of the re-start. Full-back Dani Carvajal latched on to Casemiro’s pass and sprinted forward to deliver a low cross to the edge of Bayern’s six-yard box. Ronaldo gambled with his near-post run and brilliantly turned the ball past Neuer to equalise.
The momentum had now switched and Bale could then have put Real into the lead when he met Luka Modric’s cross but headed straight at Neuer from close range.
Bale was replaced by Marco Asensio and it was not long before his team also had a numerical advantage. Martinez was beaten just inside in his own half by Ronaldo and reacted rashly, despite being booked only 173 seconds earlier, by tripping the current holder of the Ballon d’Or. Di Fiore reached immediately for his second yellow and Bayern were facing more than half an hour with 10 men.
Juan Bernat was brought on at left-back and David Alaba shuffled into the centre of defence as Bayern settled into a 4-4-1 formation without Ribery and, despite initially defending with great resilience, they could not hold out.
First, Ronaldo forced a brilliant one-handed save by Neuer before then meeting Marcelo’s cross and shooting past the Germany goalkeeper.
Real had chances for a third – notably when Marcelo blazed wide – and Ancelotti was ultimately relieved simply to be returning to Madrid with some hope. “Maybe Real Madrid could have killed the qualification if they scored another – we are still alive,” he said.