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Di María strikes for Madrid

AJ Auxerre 0-1 Real Madrid CF
Substitute Ángel Di María made the difference for the visitors in France after Auxerre had put up stout resistance.

Di María strikes for Madrid
Di María strikes for Madrid ©UEFA.com

Real Madrid CF continued their perfect start to UEFA Champions League Group G with a hard-fought success at AJ Auxerre, substitute Ángel Di María doing the damage late on to leave their hosts still chasing their first points.

Unable to find a way past Levante UD at the weekend, Madrid found goals hard to come by once again as Auxerre put up stout resistance at the Stade Abbé-Deschamps. The Ligue 1 strugglers were even able to fashion a few openings of their own, but the visitors eventually made their pressure pay when Di María turned in the winner nine minutes from time.

Madrid began with poise but they were almost stunned by Dennis Oliech before crafting their first chance, the ball ricocheting wide off the Auxerre striker after Iker Casillas had rushed out to thwart his run on goal. That seemed to fuel the Burgundy side's confidence, and goalkeeper Olivier Sorin further settled nerves by calmly parrying a Cristiano Ronaldo attempt.

If the Portuguese forward was an unsurprising source of danger, the same could not be said for Lassana Diarra, yet the midfielder took over briefly, driving wide before requiring a Kamel Chafni block to deny him the opener. Chafni distinguished himself again from the resultant corner by stopping Gonzalo Higuaín's shot on the goal line.

The Auxerre forward's tenacity summed up a busy team effort and the hosts went close themselves when Delvin Ndinga headed wide from a Benoît Pedretti free-kick. Madrid's increasingly wayward passing was allowing their opponents breathing space, although Xabi Alonso nearly orchestrated the opener when he released Marcelo inside the area, Sorin saving his volley at close range.

Not to be outdone, Casillas saw out the half by frustrating Pedretti and Dariusz Dudka, and that prompted Jean Fernandez to up his side's threat by sending on the fit-again Ireneusz Jeleń after the break. His troops were soon forced onto the back foot, but when they did escape the Poland striker was involved, rolling wide after being freed by Pedretti.

In response, Higuaín almost found the net with a deflected chance and Sorin twice foiled Ronaldo, before the same player nodded over from a corner. José Mourinho sent on Mesut Özil and Di María to add a little more spark going forward and, after Pepe had headed a cross against his own post, the former crossed to the latter, who coolly chested and swept in to secure the points.

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