Real Madrid CF ended a sequence of opening-night defeats in the UEFA Champions League by overcoming Werder Bremen 2-1 in Group C in what was their 300th European Champion Clubs' Cup game. Raúl González delighted the home fans inside the Santiago Bernabéu with the first goal on 16 minutes. Bremen levelled through Boubacar Sanogo, before Madrid retook the lead – and all three points – when Ruud van Nistelrooy scored his 50th goal in the competition 16 minutes from time.
Madrid coach Bernd Schuster had said before the match that risks would be taken in search of victory, and his selection included some surprises. Marcelo was brought in at left-back for his UEFA Champions League debut, Gonzalo Higuaín replaced Robinho, while Javier Saviola was omitted despite scoring his first Madrid goal at the weekend. For the first quarter of an hour, both teams played the ball around calmly with the hosts doing most of the probing, albeit into well-organised Bremen territory.
The breakthrough came for the nine-time European champions in the 16th minute, Raúl heading past Tim Wiese at his near post following a Van Nistelrooy cross. The visitors' response took one minute. Serbian international Duško Tošić picked up possession on the right before lifting a pass towards Sanogo. The Ivory Coast forward got ahead of marker Christoph Metzelder and flicked a shot through Iker Casillas's despairing dive.
End to end
Markus Rosenberg then gave the locals a fright when his shot cannoned back off Casillas's legs after fine work down the left by Diego. Van Nistelrooy also went close with a powerful attempt before seeing the ball taken off his toes by Naldo just when it seemed he was about to score. Daniel Jensen set his sights on goal four minutes before the break, but his blast from the corner of the penalty area was parried to safety by the Madrid keeper.
The second half began with similar pace and style, with neither side going all out to attack. Diego and Sanogo both had efforts blocked in the same move early on, while Higuaín should have done better than shoot harmlessly over after making inroads into the Bremen box. Diego, through whom all of Bremen's creative play was running, enjoyed an unchecked run through the centre before eventually passing to Jurica Vranješ who sliced tamely wide.
Back to life
A change was imminent for Madrid, but not before Raúl sought his second goal of the night with an attempted chip over Wiese who calmly plucked the ball out of the air. After 68 minutes Schuster sent on Robinho in a bid to inject freshness into a team that was starting to look stale. The switch appeared to work as Madrid soon came to life. Van Nistelrooy collected possession inside the area from a cute Raúl through ball, which he turned in first time, side-footing the wrong-footed Wiese to bring up his half-century in the competition.