Ronaldo inspires Real romp
Portuguese forward nets brace as Spanish giants top Group C
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 15/09/09 10:24pm
Ronaldo: Free-kick brace
Cristiano Ronaldo ensured Real Madrid kicked off their UEFA Champions League campaign successfully as they eventually coasted to victory with a 5-2 win against FC Zurich on Tuesday.
The world's most expensive player opened his European scoring account for the Spanish giants from a trademark free-kick before Raul Gonzalez and Gonzalo Higuain added further first-half goals to put Real in the box-seat.
However, Zurich took advantage of a two-minute defensive wobble with Xavier Margairaz and Silvan Aegerter grabbing quick-fire goals midway through the second half to set up a grandstand finish.
But another Ronaldo set-piece - courtesy of some shocking goalkeeping from Johnny Leoni - and a late Guti finish wrapped up the three points to allow Manuel Pellegrini's side, who next play host to Marseille, to go top of Group C.
It was an encouraging Champions League debut from new-boys Zurich, who next travel to the San Siro to play seven-times winners AC Milan, as Bernard Challandes' outfit came out at the Letzigrund aiming to play their brand of attacking football.
And the Swiss champions were the first to truly threaten when Finnish defender Hannu Tihinen drew a fantastic save from Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the ninth minute, and Leoni had to be equally alert a minute later to keep out a left-footed shot from Higuain.
Ronaldo ballooned a free-kick over the crossbar after Florian Stahel had been yellow-carded for dissent, but made spectacular amends in the 27th minute with another set-piece to put the nine-time European champions in front.
The Portuguese earned the chance himself after he won a free-kick from Tihinen's challenge, and his right-footed shot cleared the wall and dipped past Leoni, who could arguably have done better.
Real doubled their lead in the 34th minute as Raul scored his 65th Champions League goal.
Ronaldo again played a part, heading a lofted Pepe pass into Higuain's path on the right-hand side of the box. The Zurich defence were expecting a shot but instead the Argentinian forward squared it for Raul to tap home from six yards.
Real grabbed a third in first-half injury-time as Raul's clever reverse pass found Higuain, who bustled past his marker before drilling a low shot past Leoni for his first ever Champions League goal.
As in the first half, Zurich had the first chance of the second 45 minutes when Margairaz headed Johan Vonlanthen's free-kick from the left wide from close range.
There was cause for concern when Xabi Alonso appeared to injure his right ankle as he slipped trying to challenge Vonlanthen in midfield, with Fernando Gago eventually coming on.
Casillas made an impressive block to keep out Philippe Koch's low shot from Vonlanthen's volleyed cross but was then judged to have brought down Alexandre Alphonse in the box, although the contact looked minimal.
The Spain goalkeeper was booked and Margairaz beat him from the spot in the 64th minute and within 60 seconds Zurich had cut the deficit to one when Aegerter headed home Vonlanthen's inswinging corner from the left without a marker in sight.
Real were getting frustrated and substitutes Gago and Guti were both booked while Kaka was lucky not to get a second booking for a clumsy challenge on Tihinen before Lassana Diarra became the sixth Real man to be booked for a foul on Margairaz.
Ronaldo finished the night with a brace as his free-kick somehow bounced off Leoni's fists into the net and Guti added a sublime fifth with a chip over the stranded goalkeeper.
|FC Zürich||Team Statistics||Real Madrid|
|0||1st Half Goals||3|
|5||Shots on Target||8|
|3||Shots off Target||6|
UEFA Champions League
Tue 15th Sep - Group B
Besiktas0 - 1Man Utd
Wolfsburg3 - 1CSKA Mosc
Tue 15th Sep - Group D
A Madrid0 - 0Apoel Nicosia
Chelsea1 - 0FC Porto
Tue 15th Sep - Group A
Maccabi Haifa0 - 3Bay Munich
Juventus1 - 1Bordeaux
Tue 15th Sep - Group C
FC Zurich2 - 5R Madrid
Marseille1 - 2AC Milan
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H