The David Beckham show earned more rave reviews on Tuesday night as the Santiago Bernabéu wtinessed yet another stunning Real Madrid CF performance in the UEFA Champions League.
Beckham at the heart
With Madrid after their tenth European Champion Clubs' Cup, Beckham was at the heart of their 4-2 victory against Olympique de Marseille, performing defensive duties and masterminding the home side's attacks. On occasion he looked like tearing the French side to shreds with a series of long diagonal passes that gave Marseille right-back Habib Beye a torrid night.
Esteban Cambiasso passed a fitness test on his ankle, so Beckham was deployed alongside him in the centre of midfield with Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane on the wings - the same formation that beat Real Valladolid 7-2 on Saturday. And within five minutes Beckham had set up Roberto Carlos for a promising chance.
However, with the visitors controlling the ball during the opening minutes, Beckham was mainly showing his ability in a holding role, breaking up Marseille attacks and setting up Madrid moves. On the quarter-hour he found Roberto Carlos again, but the effort was wasted.
Five minutes later, Zidane was the next to receive a Beckham pass, and although he fed Figo, the eventual shot was saved by Marseille goalkeeper Verdan Runje. The visitors took a shock lead soon after when Didier Drogba took advantage of a deflection to score, but within three minutes Madrid were back on level terms with Beckham the provider.
He had just vented his frustration at the referee's assistant for turning down a penalty appeal when the ball came to him in space deep on the right. Beckham looked up and hit a deep cross which Roberto Carlos met on the volley at the far corner of the penalty area to level the scores.
Madrid were flying by this point, and Beckham was again involved as Ronaldo made it 2-1 following a mazy run from Michel Salgado - with the England captain having set the right-back away with a delicate chip. Beckham then beat two players on the edge of the Marseille box before planting a shot just wide of the far post with Runje, in the Marseille goal, beaten.
The half ended with Beckham hitting another imperious long pass for Zidane, only this time the defenders closed the Madrid No5 out and there was no repeat of the wonder goal the pair combined to score on Saturday against Valladolid.
Beckham started the second half as he ended with first with a fantastic long ball for Ronaldo to take in his stride, although Marseille did well to squeeze out the Brazilian. The visitors were helpless after 55 minutes, however. Beckham drew a defender out of position with a run along the left-hand channel and Zidane was able to run through and slip the ball inside for Ronaldo to score.
Unusually, the fourth goal did not involve Beckham as Roberto Carlos was fouled by Runje and Figo converted the penalty. There then followed a half-hour Madrid footballing masterclass, with Beckham earning his fair share of 'Olés'.
Trophy within their grasp
After the disappointing end to Manchester United FC's European campaign last season - at the hands of Madrid - Beckham will have been delighted with such a fine bow for his new club in the Champions League. If the 'galacticos' continue to combine in this fashion, with Beckham integral, that tenth trophy is already looking within their grasp.
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