Madrid make winning Euro start
Di Maria stunner breaks down Dinamo in Zagreb
Last Updated: September 14, 2011 10:23pm
Ozil: Could have scored in the first half from close range
An Angel di Maria strike in the second half was enough for 10-man Real Madrid to begin their UEFA Champions League campaign on a positive note, as Jose Mourinho's team defeated Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 in Croatia in Group D.
In a match largely dominated by the Spanish giants, Di Maria's stunning effort eight minutes into the second half proved to be the difference between the two teams at Stadion Maksimir after Karim Benzema had an effort hit the Dinamo crossbar in the first half.
The hosts launched a late rally to find the equaliser after Marcelo was sent off on 73 minutes but failed to breach the Madrid citadel.
First half exchanges
Madrid started the brighter of the two teams and Benzema clipped the bar with a shot from the right in the 11th minute after Di Maria's simple pass forward.
Di Maria failed to make the most of a chance himself when the tables were turned six minutes later and Benzema squared a low ball across the face of goal, only for the Argentinian to make only a half-hearted attempt to reach the inviting ball.
The 23-year-old was similarly slapdash with the half-hour mark nearing as his tame shot wasted more good work by Benzema, Ivan Kelava making the save before immediately denying Mesut Ozil on the rebound.
At the other end Ante Rukavina missed a sublime chance when, after being put through brilliantly, he decided to try to chip Iker Casillas only to loft the ball comfortably into the goalkeeper's arms.
Di Maria strikes
The second half started with Madrid taking a 53rd-minute lead. Marcelo played his part with his first meaningful contribution, receiving the ball centrally from Benzema and playing it to Di Maria who swept it into the top left corner.
It was not long before Cristiano Ronaldo came close to doubling the advantage, only for Kelava to sprawl and parry the ball away.
Marcelo was guilty of a horribly crude tackle from behind which earned him a booking, before substitute Nikola Pokrivac had an effort blocked for the hosts.
The Brazilian was off moments later when, for the second time in the game, the referee denied him a penalty - and this time decided to book him for his dramatic simulation.
Benzema then had a shot saved and Kelava, continuing a stellar performance, was again involved to keep Ronaldo at bay in the 80th minute as Madrid had to settle for narrow victory.
|Dinamo Zagreb||Team Statistics||Real Madrid|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||11|
|7||Shots off Target||11|
LIVE and exclusive on Sky Sports
UEFA Champions League
Wed 14th Sep - Group A
Man City1 - 1Napoli
Villarreal0 - 2Bay Munich
Wed 14th Sep - Group B
Lille2 - 2CSKA Mosc
Inter0 - 1Trabzonspor
Wed 14th Sep - Group C
Basel2 - 1Otelul Galati
Benfica1 - 1Man Utd
Wed 14th Sep - Group D
Din Zagreb0 - 1R Madrid
Ajax0 - 0Lyon
UEFA Champions League Group A
|1||Paris St Germain||6||15|
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|3||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||7|
UEFA Champions League Group D
UEFA Champions League Group E
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
UEFA Champions League Group H