Ronaldo's goal clinches win for Real Madrid

Last updated 09:08 19/09/2012
Ronaldo
Getty
THRILLER: Ronaldo celebrates his 90th minute goal against Man City.

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Cristiano Ronaldo had the last word in a wild shootout against Manchester City, scoring in the 90th minute as Real Madrid came back for a 3-2 victory in a Champions League opener where all five goals came late.

Ronaldo, returning to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since saying he felt ''sad'' at the club, scored with a dipping shot that slipped past goalkeeper Joe Hart as Madrid showed the grit and determination that coach Jose Mourinho had said was missing from the team to start the season.

Ronaldo said the result was just what Madrid needed following a second domestic loss that heaped early season pressure on the players and Mourinho, with all expectations this season geared toward a record 10th Champions League trophy.

''The most important thing was to win and we did that. The team is good, the fans are good and I'm good,'' said Ronaldo, who refused to address his glum situation at the club.

''It was a crazy game.'' Ronaldo's winner capped a frantic finale after City had done well to soak up Madrid's pressure in the first half before twice taking the lead in the second.

''It is difficult not because we lost - we can lose against a side like Real Madrid - but because with four minutes to go it was 2-1,'' City manager Roberto Mancini said. ''This is strange. I think we need to improve this situation.''

Yaya Toure stole the ball from Pepe to start a 69th-minute break, slipping a pass through to substitute Edin Dzeko to move into the area alone and slot past Iker Casillas.

Madrid equalized eight minutes later as Marcelo made up for two previous misses from the same distance by curling a long shot into the top corner, after the ball deflected off Javi Garcia to sail out of Hart's reach.

With the game continuing at a furious pace, Madrid's weakness on set pieces again proved costly as substitute Aleksandar Kolarov curled a free kick into the area that bounced untouched beyond Casillas inside the far post.

But Madrid came roaring back as substitute Karim Benzema turned to squeeze home an 87th-minute equalizer past Hart, before Ronaldo capped the rally as the hosts shook off the criticism following a poor domestic start to emerge triumphant in the matchup between the champions of Spain and England. Ronaldo, who refused to celebrate when scoring in his last home game, didn't hesitate to do so this time.

He slid toward the corner before being mobbed by his teammates, while Jose Mourinho also seemed to release a weight of emotions as the Madrid coach slid onto the field on his knees with his fists pumping in delight. Mourinho said he imagined hitting the delete button on all the headlines he was expecting to read in Wednesday's newspapers with the team trailing.

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''When you want to succeed, you can. It was a beautiful game,'' said the Portuguese coach. It was a tough loss for City, in a group that also includes German champion Borussia Dortmund and Ajax. Dortmund beat the Dutch club 1-0 at home in the other Group D game.

''We made some mistakes and I don't want us to continue defending like this,'' Mancini said. ''In the first half they played better than us, but in the second half we played well and scored two goals. When you score two goals here and are 2-1, you should pay more attention.''

Mourinho said football didn't look like the priority for many of his players during Saturday's 1-0 loss at Sevilla, and the Portuguese coach said he would have made up to seven lineup changes if he could have.

On Tuesday (local time), he made two big ones with defender Sergio Ramos - a regular starter for the Spanish champions since 2005 - and playmaker Mesut Oezil left on the bench.

Michael Essien was handed a debut while Raphael Varane replaced Ramos for the French teenager's first appearance of the season.

''I kept saying as things were not going in the right direction that Real Madrid can lose matches like tonight's, Real Madrid can lose matches fighting like animals. But Real Madrid cannot lose matches like the match in Getafe or the match in Seville,'' Mourinho said.

''I recovered my team. Now I just hope I don't lose it.'' Sergio Aguero was available on the bench after an injury, but the City striker did not play as manager Roberto Mancini handed Serbian teenager Matija Nastasic his club debut in central defence alongside captain Vincent Kompany. Garcia started for the second straight game to back up Toure, with Carlos Tevez in attack in between wingers David Silva and Samir Nasri.

Ronaldo nearly put the hosts ahead with two dangerous efforts early on but Hart was up to the task as Madrid showed more poise and attacking intent but also saw Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira miss clear scoring chances. City seemed happy to hit on the counter, but Madrid went into halftime with a 16-to-1 advantage in shots. Madrid maintained its attacking intent after the break and Dzeko's goal opened up the field of play even more, with both teams coming close often.

But while Kolarov's surprising goal seemed to stun Madrid, Benzema's first goal of the season calmed nerves and the Spanish club immediately started pressing for a winner. And Ronaldo finally couldn't be denied, making up for his several previous misses and a chance where he went for a shot instead of feeding the wide open Angel Di Maria in front of goal.

- AP

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