Sports

Real Madrid vs PSG: Champions League battle of the giants

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 100th Champions League goal for Real Madrid as the holders beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 in a superb first leg of their round-of-16 tie at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Adrien Rabiot gave Unai Emery’s French giants a priceless away goal in the Spanish capital, but Ronaldo hit back from the penalty spot to make it a century of goals in the competition for Madrid before scoring another late on – with Marcelo adding another – to put Zinedine Zidane’s men ahead the tie.
The game began at a breathless pace as Real sought to break the deadlock early on, while Neymar was given close attention by the likes of Nacho.Marcelo came off worse in a challenge with Dani Alves as the sides fought, while Neymar was booked for a cynical hack on Nacho as frustration got the better of the Brazilian.
Giovani Lo Celso looked a little overawed by the occasion, and picked up a caution after needlessly trying a backheel deep inside his own half – the only saving grace for the 21-year-old being that Ronaldo thrashed the close-range free-kick over the bar.
PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola then blocked a goalbound Ronaldo one-on-one effort with his face after 28 frantic minutes, but it was the visitors who drew first blood five minutes later.Mbappe whipped a low cross in from the right, and Neymar’s impudent backheel flick teed up Rabiot to finish unmarked for a crucial away goal.
Ronaldo wasted another fine chance soon after as the Portuguese star struggled, but the 33-year-old is never far from a goal – even on an off day.
Areola made another fine stop from a Karim Benzema effort: from the resulting short corner, Lo Celso needlessly put his hands on Toni Kroos, and referee Gianluca Rocchi pointed to the spot.
Ronaldo stepped up, and despite complaining about what appeared to be a green light from a laser pen being shone in his eyes, the forward slammed the penalty home – albeit under strange circumstances.
Replays showed that the force of Ronaldo planting his standing foot in the turf caused the ball to pop up to effectively hand the Madrid star a low half-volley for the spot kick, though Rocchi can be forgiven for missing the incident.
With a frantic first 45 minutes over, Real had Keylor Navas to thank for denying Mbappe with a strong right hand shortly after the break.
Real pressed forward in search of another goal, while Neymar was perhaps fortunate to avoid a second yellow card after Rocchi elected not to book the forward for simulation on the hour mark.
Gareth Bale was introduced with 23 minutes remaining, though it was another substitute – Marco Asensio – who turned the tie on its head.
The Spaniard’s low shot was palmed up by Areola, and Ronaldo finished with his knee from close range to put Madrid ahead with eight minutes remaining – and Asensio had a hand in what could prove to be the vital goal of the tie as his cross was finished by Marcelo two minutes later for a stunning comeback.