Ronaldo completes remarkable Madrid comeback
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Real Madrid CF 3-2 Manchester City
Cristiano Ronaldo's 90th-minute strike won an engrossing game as the nine-time champions scored twice in the last four minutes to snatch victory.
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A Cristiano Ronaldo strike in the final seconds earned Real Madrid CF a spectacular victory against Manchester City FC as the Spanish champions snatched the Group D points from their English counterparts at the last.
Despite dominating the opening 45 minutes, the hosts were stunned when substitute Edin Džeko put City ahead midway through the second period. That brought the matchday one contest to life, with Marcelo equalising with 14 minutes left, only for Aleksandar Kolarov to restore City's advantage in the 85th minute. Karim Benzema quickly levelled matters again before Ronaldo provided the grandstand finish.
Prior to this first competitive encounter between the sides, José Mourinho and Roberto Mancini shared a warm embrace on the touchline while all around them supporters did a collective double take. Out went Sergio Ramos and Mesut Özil for the Merengues, with Raphaël Varane and debutant Michael Essien entering in their stead.
They may have made their worst start to a domestic campaign for 11 years, yet Madrid were initially the epitome of calm as they probed the visiting defence for openings. Ronaldo enjoyed seven derby wins against City during his Manchester United FC days and appeared hungry for more as he cut inside Vincent Kompany before stroking a low shot towards the far post that Joe Hart expertly guided away from goal. The Madrid No7 roared forward again shortly afterwards and his searing effort from the left was met by Gonzalo Higuaín's point-blank header, Hart again rescuing City.
The England No1 continued to frustrate the nine-time European champions, positioning himself perfectly to block from an onrushing Higuaín after Ángel Di María's clever dink over the top. Eventually driven wide, the striker cut back for Ronaldo, whose deflected shot was skewed over by Sami Khedira.
Madrid had failed to register just once in 25 previous outings in the UEFA Champions League and were getting closer to extending that proud record with Marcelo threatening twice after the restart.
The English champions – also menacing throughout – chose their moment to pounce with perfection, however. Having played a one-two with Carlos Tévez in Madrid's half, Yaya Touré bounded away before deftly laying the ball to his left, where substitute Džeko wrong-footed goalkeeper Iker Casillas with a low strike into the net.
Marcelo's curving attempt brought parity, yet City were in front once more in the Spanish capital when Kolarov's free-kick from the right evaded everyone to find the far corner. With another defeat looming, Benzema fed off Di María's though pass before lashing in, leaving Ronaldo to complete a remarkable late turnaround when his strike from the left went under Hart's despairing dive.