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Real Madrid recover to down dogged Ludogorets

PFC Ludogorets Razgrad 1-2 Real Madrid CF
Substitute Karim Benzema struck 13 minutes from time as Madrid came from behind to win on a mixed evening for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Karim Benzema scores winner as Madrid open three-point lead in Group B
Marcelinho stuns holders by scoring early opener for Ludogorets
Cristiano Ronaldo takes two penalties, with first saved and second converted
Ronaldo on target for seventh successive match, scoring 11 goals in process
Next games: Ludogorets v Basel, Liverpool v Madrid (22 October)

Real Madrid CF came through a tough examination against PFC Ludogorets Razgrad, recovering from going behind early to make it two wins from two in Group B.

Signalling a spectacular first half, Marcelinho headed the Bulgarian champions into a sixth-minute lead to the delight of the majority of a full house in Sofia. When Cristiano Ronaldo had a penalty saved, it briefly looked like being their night but Madrid's No7 did not pass up a second opportunity. The UEFA Champions League title holders were in the ascendancy from then on, but had to wait until 13 minutes from time for substitute Karim Benzema to put them ahead.

Fuelled by a wall of noise, Ludogorets started without deference to the ten-time European champions – and were rewarded with a shock advantage. Marcelinho, a vibrant attacking presence throughout, was perfectly positioned to nod in at the far post after a corner was diverted into his path by Sergio Ramos.

The Galácticos did not need long to find an answer and immediately began laying siege to the hosts' goal. Gareth Bale missed by centimetres after a Ronaldo back heel. Two minutes later Yordan Minev impeded Javier Hernández and Madrid were awarded a spot kick – step forward Vladislav Stoyanov, diving to his right to deny Ronaldo and add yet more credence to his reputation as a penalty killer.

Marcelinho wheels away after making it 1-0
Marcelinho wheels away after making it 1-0©AFP/Getty Images

Ronaldo hardly lacks confidence in front of goal, though, and when Aleksandar Aleksandrov brought down Ronaldo, the Portuguese international had a chance at redemption. Stoyanov guessed right and was right again – only this time the ball narrowly evaded his fingertips. The floodgates could have opened but Ludogorets slammed them shut, plugging holes as they appeared and clinging on.

Georgi Dermendzhiev's men might even have regained the initiative, Marcelinho requiring Iker Casillas to stretch and turn his shot around the upright. At the other end, Ronaldo was frustrated by Minev's goal-line intervention yet, just as the home fans started to believe a group stage point was in their grasp, Benzema slotted in a sublime Marcelo centre to snatch it away.