Goals from Gareth Bale, Isco and a stunning late strike from Mariano sealed a 3-0 win for Real Madrid against Roma in their Champions League opener.
The scoreline did not fully reflect the dominance of the reigning champions, who had a number of chances to add to their tally. Isco broke the deadlock in the 45th minute as he brilliantly curled home from a free-kick.
Bale doubled the tally 13 minutes into the second half as he swept home from a long Luka Modric pass before Mariano (90+2) rifled home a superb effort into the bottom far corner to seal the victory on his second debut for the club.
Roma offered very little in return and Real go top of Group G on goal difference after Viktoria Plzen beat CSKA Moscow 2-1 in the group’s other fixture on Wednesday.
Real Madrid had two great chances in the opening ten minutes. Toni Kroos played a delightful ball over the top for Bale – who controlled well – before firing a half-volley just wide.
The Welshman was involved again not long after as Isco’s effort was palmed away by Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen before Bale’s attempt to net the rebound was nicked off target by the leg of Daniele De Rossi.
The hosts continued to see good efforts come and go with Olsen making a string of good saves around the 37th minute. The best came after a Real Madrid corner as he forced Sergio Ramos’ header over the bar with his fingertips.
But Real got their opener on the stroke of half-time. After a foul from De Rossi on Isco inside the ‘D’, the Spaniard lined the free-kick up for himself before lifting it majestically over the wall and into the back of the net, with goalkeeper Olsen static on the other side of the goal.
One of Roma’s best chances of the game came within minutes of the restart as Cengiz Under made a wonderful run into the space, getting past Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane before striking, but he forced a good save from Keylor Navas. Not long after, Real hit the crossbar as Bale struck from 10 yards, but it pinged off the woodwork.
But the forward made the breakthrough in the 58th minute with a well-taken goal. Modric showed great vision to pick out the run of Bale, who latched onto the pass before beating Kostas Manolas to emphatically sweep home.
Although he had few saves to make, Navas did well when called upon, and denied Roma a goal back in the 63rd minute. Uncharacteristically, Casemiro gave the ball away in the middle of the park before Aleksandar Kolarov let fly from the top of the area, forcing a low save from the Real goalkeeper.
But Mariano rounded off the victory in some style after coming on for his second Real debut after his return to the club from Lyon in the summer. Marcelo pulled away from his marker before slotting the ball into the path of the 25-year-old, who took the ball around Manolas before curling a great effort into the far corner.
- Real Madrid have now scored at least once in each of their last 43 home Champions League games (W35 D6 L2) since a 0-2 loss to Barcelona in the 2010-11 semi-final – the longest ever run of its kind in the competition’s history.
- Roma have lost each of their last five away Champions League games, conceding 16 goals, their worst ever losing streak on their travels in the competition.
- Isco’s goal for Real Madrid was the first ever direct free-kick shot he had taken in a Champions League match.
- Gareth Bale has scored three goals in his last two Champions League games for Real Madrid, as many as he had in his previous 27 combined for the club.
Man of the match – Gareth Bale
Bale is really stepping up in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, and has now been directly involved in 19 goals in 23 starts in Champions League group stage games (12 goals, 7 assists). It was not just his strike that he took well, the Welshman had a number of other chances throughout the game and could really have had a hat-trick.
He continues to link up well with Modric and Karim Benzema, and gave just a glimpse of what is to come from him this season.
Real Madrid are next in action against Espanyol at the Bernabeu on Saturday in La Liga and will travel to CSKA Moscow in their next Champions League game on Tuesday 2 October. Roma travel to Bologna in Serie A on Sunday and welcome Viktoria Plzen to the Stadio Olimpico in the Champions League also on October 2.