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Robinho double sends Madrid top

Published: Thursday 25 October 2007, 0.51CET
Real Madrid CF 4-2 Olympiacos CFP
Madrid needed two second-half Robinho goals to defeat ten-man Olympiacos and move top of Group C.
by Paul Bryan
from Santiago Bernabéu
Published: Thursday 25 October 2007, 0.51CET

Robinho double sends Madrid top

Real Madrid CF 4-2 Olympiacos CFP
Madrid needed two second-half Robinho goals to defeat ten-man Olympiacos and move top of Group C.

Robinho scored two second-half goals as Real Madrid CF came from behind to beat ten-man Olympiacos CFP 4-2 in a Santiago Bernabéu thriller and assume control of Group C.

Wonderful save
Home captain Raúl González set the tone by breaking the deadlock after two minutes, and with eleven more played the visitors had both equalised through Luciano Galletti and had Vassilis Torosidis dismissed. Still, Júlio César fired Olympiacos into a shock lead just after the break before Robinho's double either side of a Ruud van Nistelrooy penalty miss. The drama continued until the death, with Iker Casillas producing a wonderful added-time save seconds before Javier Ángel Balboa's clincher for Madrid.

Early score
On a high following their first-ever away win in the UEFA Champions League at Werder Bremen, Olympiacos conjured the game's first chance after a minute when a long-range Ieroklis Stoltidis shot fizzed over Casillas's crossbar. Moments later, though, the Greek champions were caught out when Paraskevas Antzas stumbled in possession and allowed Robinho to run free. The Brazilian released Van Nistelrooy and although the Dutchman was denied by goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis, Raúl was on hand to steer the loose ball into an empty net.

Equaliser
The match continued at a frenetic pace and it was the noisy pack of Olympiacos fans who roared their approval of the equalising goal on seven minutes. Predrag Djordjević outwitted then outpaced Míchel Salgado down the left before cutting a crisp pass back from the goalline for the unmarked Galletti. As a former Club Atlético de Madrid player, he would have taken enormous satisfaction from the way he composed himself on the ball before swerving a shot beyond the diving Casillas and into the corner.

Torosidis off
By the 13th minute, however, Olympiacos had been reduced to ten men. Van Nistelrooy was again involved as Torosidis impeded the attacker as he neared the edge of the area and the referee immediately flashed the red card in the Greek's direction. Yet the sending-off did not deter Panagiotis Lemonis's men: Lomana LuaLua thumped a drive into the side-netting before Djordjević headed a Cristián Raúl Ledesma set-piece wide.

Robinho header
The Olympiacos support began to dream of witnessing a first victory on Spanish soil when, with the second half two minutes old, their team went ahead. Djordjević was again the source as his flighted free-kick from the left looped over the Madrid defence and was volleyed in by Júlio César. Madrid probed the red ranks for the equaliser and Sergio Ramos failed to convert a header before teeing up Robinho on 68 minutes, the No10 beating Nikopolidis at his near post with another header.

Knockout blow
Ten minutes later the Spanish title-holders had an opportunity to pull ahead from the spot as Robinho's trickery won a penalty which Van Nistelrooy blazed over. The striker made amends by setting up Robinho, who finished neatly, in the 83rd minute and there was more drama to come. Casillas somehow denied Michał Żewłakow, paving the way for Balboa to provide the knockout blow with almost the final touch of the match. The sides meet again in Greece in a fortnight.

Last updated: 25/10/07 11.17CET

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