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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

UEFA Champions League wrap up: Cristiano Ronaldo fires a brace to give Real Madrid easy win

Cristiano Ronaldo made the difference in his return, scoring twice as Real Madrid began its quest for a third straight Champions League title. In other Champions League matches, Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Besiktas won their matches respectively.

By: AP | Updated: September 14, 2017 10:13:27 am
Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo, UEFA Champions League, Manchester City Cristiano Ronaldo scored in each half in his first match since being suspended. (Source: Reuters)

Cristiano Ronaldo made the difference in his return, scoring twice as Real Madrid began its quest for a third straight Champions League title by beating Cypriot club APOEL 3-0 on Wednesday.

Ronaldo scored in each half in his first match since being suspended for shoving a referee in the Spanish Super Cup final last month.
He’s still suspended for one more match of his five-game suspension, but is cleared to play in European competitions.

“He always scores and I hope it continues this way,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. Sergio Ramos scored the third goal at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where Madrid hasn’t lost a group-stage game in almost eight years.

The Spanish powerhouse has won 12 of its last 13 Champions League games at the Bernabeu. Tottenham defeated Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in the other Group H match.

“We needed this victory,” Zidane said. “It’s important to start this competition well. We can’t be too happy with how we played in the first half, but we were much better in the second.”

It didn’t take long for Ronaldo to show he’s in form. In the 12th minute, he scored with an angled shot from near the far post after a low cross by Gareth Bale. His second in the 51st was a penalty kick after a handball was called inside the area.

Ronaldo has the most penalty kick goals in Champions League history, with 12, one more than Lionel Messi. He took his Champions League record tally to 107 goals. Ronaldo also struck the crossbar, and had two goals disallowed for offside.

Madrid’s third goal came in the 61st when Ramos flicked the ball with an overhead kick while with his back to the net. “We tried to remain tight at the back and counterattack, but matching their level was really tough,” APOEL captain Nuno Morais said.

APOEL was eliminated by Madrid when it made its surprising run to the quarterfinals in 2012. The Cyprus team has not won any of its 12 away matches in the Champions League, losing the last six in row.

“We need to be realistic. We knew it would be hard,” APOEL coach Giorgos Donis said. “We are not aiming too high in this group but we feel our games at home will be very different than the ones away.”

Madrid defensive midfielder Mateo Kovacic had to be substituted midway through the first half because of an apparent muscle injury.

Manchester City spoil Feyenoord’s Champions League return 4-0

City did not manage an away win last season in the Champions League, but never looked like losing in De Kuip as it spoiled Feyenoord’s return to the competition for the first time since 2002.

“They play so easily, find one another so easily, have a lot of movement off the ball,” Feyenoord coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst told Dutch broadcaster Veronica. “They are one of the top teams in the world.”

Stones, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus scored in the first half as the visitors made a mockery of Van Bronckhorst’s decision to play a five-man defense. Stones doubled his tally in the 63rd.

“Last season we were not able to win one away game in the Champions League,” City coach Pep Guardiola told BT Sport. “And if you want to take a step forward then we need to be important both at home and away.”

Feyenoord could savor its Champions League return for less than two minutes before Stones headed David Silva’s cross innocuously toward goal and the ball somehow crept between the legs of Tonny Vilhena on the goal-line.

“If you go behind from a corner inside two minutes, that is certainly not what you want against an opponent like Manchester,” said Van Bronckhorst.

Aguero doubled the visitors’ lead in the 10th by darting in front of defender Eric Botteghin to smash home a cross by right back Kyle Walker. Gabriel Jesus celebrated his Champions League debut by tapping in a rebound from close range in the 25th while Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones appealed in vain for offside.

After a quiet start to the second half, Stones beat Botteghin in the air to powerfully head home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross. “I don’t get on the scoresheet too much but I’m trying to bring more goals to my game,” Stones told BT Sport.

City took its foot off the accelerator for the last half hour and Feyenoord looked a little more solid at the back after reverting to its more trusted four-man defense.

Shakhtar Donetsk upset Napoli 2-1

Facundo Ferreyra scored one goal and set up another as Shakhtar Donetsk upset Napoli 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

With Shakhtar starting its fourth consecutive European campaign away from its home city due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the club’s South American contingent shone in its opening win in Group F.

Argentine forward Ferreyra flicked the ball to Taison with a neat backheel for the Brazilian to score Shakhtar’s opener from the edge of the box in the 15th minute.

Ferreyra made it 2-0 in the second half when he headed in at the far post after Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina was stranded by Taras Stepanenko’s left-wing cross.

Stepanenko gave Napoli a route back into the game in the 70th when he sliced down Dries Mertens in the penalty area. Arkadiusz Milik stepped up to hit the resulting penalty low and hard past Andriy Pyatov.

Ferreyra came close to making sure of victory in the 83rd but hit the post and watched as Viktor Kovalenko missed the rebound from close range. Napoli charged up the pitch but couldn’t find an equalizer as Milik blazed over the bar and Pyatov saved an effort from Jose Callejon.

In the first half, Shakhtar defender Ivan Ordets had come agonizingly close to an own-goal when his attempt to cut out a cross instead looped toward his own goal, flying narrowly wide.

Napoli fans clashed with stewards at halftime after they were stopped from trying to enter a sector filled with home fans. Police broke up the skirmishes.

RB Leipzig draw 1-1 with Monaco on Champions League debut

Eight years after the club’s formation, Leipzig made its Champions League debut and drew with visiting Monaco 1-1 on Wednesday. Swedish midfielder Emil Forsberg claimed the team’s first ever Champions League goal, only for Youri Tielemans to answer straight away for the French champion, which was knocked out by Juventus in the semifinals last season.

“The atmosphere would give you goose bumps today,” Leipzig and Germany striker Timo Werner said. “Of course we would have liked to have won, but Monaco defended very well.”

Leipzig could not compete with Monaco’s pedigree, having been formed in 2009 when Dietrich Mateschitz of energy drinks giant Red Bull bought a local fifth-tier team, SSV Markranstaedt. The 73-year-old Austrian billionaire rebranded the club with his company’s livery before financing its steady promotion through the German league system.

But Leipzig, which shocked the Bundesliga by finishing runner-up as a promoted team last season, showed no inferiority complex on its debut in Europe’s premier club competition. Yussuf Poulsen, who just extended his contract with the club, went closest midway through a first half of few chances.

Monaco, which in the offseason lost the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoue Bakayoko, looked secure in defense. That was until Forsberg the only starter for Leipzig to have previously played in the competition broke through and beat Diego Benaglio at the near post in the 33rd minute.

The celebrations were cut short, however, when Tielemans a 20-year-old summer signing from Anderlecht hit back by prodding home the rebound after Peter Gulacsi saved his initial header.

“It’s something special and makes me very proud,” Forsberg said of his goal. “Unfortunately we conceded the equalizer in the next play.” After the break, Poulsen had a goal ruled out for offside before Leipzig settled for a point.

Besiktas defeat Porto 3-1

Besiktas managed to break through FC Porto’s defense to open its Champions League campaign with a 3-1 win on Wednesday. Porto was yet to concede this season, but Talisca, Cenk Tosun, and Ryan Babel all scored for the visitors at Estadio do Dragao.

After Talisca opened the scoring, Porto equalized thanks to an own goal by Besiktas defender Dusko Tosic. Tosun gave the Turkish side the lead again before halftime, and Babel sealed the victory in the second half.

“It was a great game from us, defensively as well as in attack,” Talisca said. “We did exactly what our coach asked of us and everything worked out well. We had a very good first half, while Porto dominated us somewhat in the second but we knew how to stand up to that.”

In the other Group G match, Leipzig made its Champions League debut with a 1-1 home draw against Monaco. Porto has won only two of its last eight home matches in European competitions.

It was coming off five straight wins to start the season in Portugal, all without conceding. Porto was without Vincent Aboubakar and Maxi Pereira because of suspensions. Aboubakar played on loan with Besiktas last season.

“We had enough chances to have ended with a different result,” Porto coach Sergio Conceicao said.

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