Related News

Home » Sports » Soccer

Real Madrid beats Zurich 5-2 in Champions League

CRISTIANO Ronaldo scored twice from long-range free-kicks as Real Madrid beat FC Zurich 5-2 to open the Champions League group phase yesterday.

The nine-time European champion coasted to a three-goal lead in the first-half, then conceded two goals within a minute midway through the second half, sending a chill up the Spanish club.

Ronaldo gave Madrid the lead in the 27th minute, before Raul finished a neat move in the 34th and Gonzalo Higuain broke through to score in stoppage time.

But unheralded Zurich got goals from Xavier Margairaz on a 64th-minute penalty and a header from Silvan Aegerter moments later.

"Real was for sure a little bit in fear of us. At 3-2 anything is possible," Zurich goalkeeper Johnny Leoni said. "If they want to win the Champions League they will have to play better."

Madrid sealed victory as Ronaldo struck again in the 89th and Guti scored on a counterattack just before the final whistle.

"I never feel pressure," Ronaldo said. "I just work to score goals. I scored two and I'm really pleased for that but the important thing is to win games."

On this evidence, Madrid's €250 million (US$360 million) offseason investment in players looks a sure bet for exciting matches - win or lose.

"We must not lose concentration," coach Manuel Pelligrini said. "There are always things to improve on but I'm happy we scored five goals."

The world's most expensive team returns to Group C action on Sept. 30 when it hosts Marseille, while Zurich travels to face AC Milan on the same date. Milan, a seven-time champion, beat Marseille 2-1 in France on Tuesday.

Despite its opponent's stellar lineup, Zurich started brightly as Onyekachi Okonkwo broke up the rhythm of the Madrid midfield and won possession for his teammates.

The Swiss had the first shot on goal in the ninth minute following a corner. The loose ball was backheeled by captain Hannu Tihinen to draw a diving save from Iker Casillas.

A minute later, Leoni saved Higuain's low shot following Kaka's reverse pass, the first of several raids down an exposed right flank as Kaka and Ronaldo switched positions with ease.

When Ronaldo cut in on his right foot midway through the half, he won a free kick that he fired well over the goal. It was simply a range-finder for his next opportunity a minute later.

Ronaldo, the €94 million (US$135 million) world-record signing, again won a foul 25 meters (yards) from goal and, after Raul faked to shoot, then rifled his shot high into the net.

Ronaldo helped create Real's second goal, rising to head the ball into Higuain's path and the Argentine delivered a pass into the goalmouth where Raul struck from three meters (yards).

Zurich responded with a shot from Johan Vonlanthen that flew over, but it conceded a demoralizing third goal in stoppage time.

Higuain muscled past Tihinen too easily outside the penalty area and advanced to score with a right-foot shot into the far corner.

A repeat of last season's Swiss-Spanish mismatch in the Champions League, when FC Basel was thrashed 5-0 at home by Barcelona, looked likely. But Switzerland international Margairaz began to expose flaws in the Madrid defense.

First he found space at the back post from a 52nd-minute corner and headed just wide, then he forced Casillas into a diving block nine minutes later.

Casillas was then left exposed by Vonlanthen's pass to release Alexandre Alphonse into the penalty area. The Spain goalkeeper conceded the spot kick but was shown only a yellow card.

Margairaz's run-up was painfully slow but his strike was true and just eluded Casillas's dive.

A minute later, Zurich was back in the game at 3-2 when Aegerter met another corner from the left flank and scored on a header.

Madrid was rocked but a counterattack in the 76th saw Kaka and Ronaldo link to set up Raul, whose shot was blocked by Tihinen.

Substitute Fernando Gago fired a 30-meter (yard) shot that was tipped over by Leoni, before Ronaldo scored from a similar distance when the Zurich 'keeper spilled the ball over the line.

As Zurich committed more players into attack in stoppage time, Guti ran clear and chipped Leoni from 25 meters (yards).


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend