Madrid make it five wins out of five at Basel
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
FC Basel 1893 0-1 Real Madrid CF
Cristiano Ronaldo's first-half strike helped the holders preserve the last 100% record in the UEFA Champions League this season.
Article top media content
• Real Madrid make it five wins from five to clinch top spot in Group B
• Cristiano Ronaldo scores 71st UEFA Champions League goal, matching Raúl González
• Gareth Bale and Ronaldo both denied by the woodwork after the interval
• Basel must avoid defeat at Anfield on matchday six to finish second
• Next games: Liverpool v Basel, Madrid v Ludogorets (9 December)
Cristiano Ronaldo struck the only goal of the game as Real Madrid CF clinched top spot in Group B and maintained their 100% record with victory at FC Basel 1893.
The Portugal forward watched Lionel Messi claim the UEFA Champions League scoring record 24 hours earlier but he is never far from the limelight. Ten minutes before the break he got enough on his miscued finish to ultimately see off the Swiss hosts, though Madrid had to endure a late scare when substitute Ahmed Hamoudi curled an effort wide.
The noise and fervour inside St. Jakob-Park suggested the home fans knew their side needed the additional help to prevent Madrid's constellation of stars from shining. Basel dutifully produced a high-octane opening in which Breel Embolo promised without threatening, and Paulo Sousa's men passed confidently and crisply but ineffectively.
The early ardour calmed; Madrid began to bristle with their trademark efficiency. Tomáš Vaclík comfortably fielded a Gareth Bale header and Ronaldo's acute drive with somewhat less ease before being beaten with the visitors' sole clear-cut opportunity of the opening period.
Anonymous until then, Karim Benzema teased and breezed past Fabian Schär before pulling the ball back for Ronaldo with perfect precision. The Portugal international's miscued finish was far less memorable than the historical significance: equalling Raúl González's record of 71 goals in the UEFA Champions League proper.
Had a dipping trademark free-kick from Ronaldo zipped beyond Tomáš Vaclík early in the second half, it would have lived longer in the memory, but Basel's Czech goalkeeper shovelled the ball to safety. Barely tested at the opposite end, Keylor Navas was at full stretch when Embolo burst past Raphaël Varane and looked like he might find the gap inside the near post only for the Madrid keeper to block his goal-bound effort.
Vaclík could do nothing when Bale unleashed a rising drive that left the crossbar shuddering. Ronaldo also struck the woodwork, capping an incisive move involving Fábio Coentrão and Bale with a measured side-foot shot that grazed the foot of a post as Madrid sought a second to smooth their passage to the final whistle. Hamoudi so nearly punished them.