Real Madrid CF were forced to come from behind to defeat Norwegian visitors Rosenborg BK 4-1 in UEFA Champions League Group F and found inspiration in the unlikeliest of sources as Jonathan Woodgate's equalising header paved the way to victory.
Woodgate, whose only previous goals in a Madrid shirt had gone into his own net, cancelled out Roar Strand's first-half strike three minutes into the second period as Madrid returned rejuvenated after a testing opening 45 minutes. Raúl González, Iván Helguera and David Beckham added further goals as the Spanish side moved into second place in the section with this second successive win.
Both coaches were able to field their usual 4-3-3 formations, albeit with several changes. Madrid's Vanderlei Luxemburgo was deprived of Míchel Salgado, Sergio Ramos and Ronaldo so opted to introduce Carlos Diogo and Woodgate in defence while Robinho moved into a central attacking role flanked by Julio Baptista and Raúl. Zinedine Zidane, now fully recovered from a groin strain, started his first Group F game at Guti's expense.
For the visitors, Ørjan Berg failed a late fitness test, forcing coach Per-Mathias Høgmo to deploy Per Ciljan Skjelbred in the middle of midfield, while Christer Basma stepped in at right-back to push captain Strand into a more advanced position. Despite the reshuffle, the visitors defended solidly in the opening stages, their organisation and discipline leaving few spaces for the hosts, who looked quite stifled in attack.
Madrid nevertheless managed to fashion a number of attempts on Espen Johnsen's goal, Raúl firing straight into the goalkeeper's hands in the opening minute before Woodgate, up front for a corner, headed over. Efforts from Baptista and Robinho likewise ended in the stands, before the Rosenborg keeper brilliantly smothered Raúl's audacious back-heel.
Chances for Rosenborg were at a premium and home goalkeeper Iker Casillas was relatively untroubled, although he did punch clear an Øyvind Storflor free-kick. The Spanish international then watched his opposite number react superbly to tip a toe-poke from Baptista on to the crossbar.
However, as Luxemburgo had warned, the Norwegian outfit are masters of the counterattack and caught out Madrid against the run of play just before half-time. Storflor's centre escaped Helguera, leaving Strand – who scored Rosenborg's opener in a 2-0 win against Madrid in Trondheim in the 1997/98 UEFA Champions League - to calmly slip his shot past Casillas.
Luxemburgo responded by swapping Baptista for Guti at half-time, and the switch brought instant results as Madrid turned the game on its head within seven minutes of the restart. First, Woodgate met Beckham's raking cross to direct a powerful header under the crossbar, and soon after, Raúl put the home team ahead following a dazzling display of skill from Robinho. The Brazilian's run created the opportunity for Madrid's captain to show some fast footwork of his own, controlling the ball with his left and slotting it in with his right.
Confidence restored, Madrid began to dominate and extended their advantage on 68 minutes when Helguera connected with a Beckham free-kick to nod inside the near post. The pressure was relentless, Raúl and Robinho both going close as the final whistle approached but it was Beckham who crowned a fine performance by curling a signature set-piece into the top corner. Madrid will be full of confidence for the return match in two weeks, although Pablo García will be suspended after collecting a yellow card.