Ronaldo leads Real Madrid to dramatic 3-2 win over Man City
City went ahead twice, through Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov, only to be pegged back by a deflected Marcelo strike, and a sumptuous Karim Benzema finish.
Ronaldo turned a great game into a legendary one with a stoppage time goal, that dipped and swerved no end to hand Real a much deserved win, after the hosts dominated for long periods. The opening match day of the 2012 Champions League season paired two of the gameâ€™s heavyweights in a mouthwatering contest. Nine-time winners Real Madrid hosted a Manchester City side whose shock and awe spending policy has changed the current landscape of football.
Real, who have been left reeling from their league struggles following a second defeat of the season away to Sevilla last week, boasted an expected star-studded starting 11, yet one that was littered with changes. Mainstay Sergio Ramos was surprisingly consigned to the bench, with French teenager Raphael Varane slotting in at centerback. Another Madrid main man, Mehmut Ozil, dropped out for Michael Essien, who is very much accustomed to the Mourinho war following their time together at Stamford Bridge.
Cityâ€™s changes were similar to that of their continental rival, with centerback Joleon Lescott making way for new signing Matija Nastasic. David Silva made his expected return to first team action, deputizing for Scott Sinclair in the forward triumvirate, with Gareth Barry also reclaiming his spot in the middle of the park.
Cityâ€™s unexpansive shape played into the hands of their hosts early on, with Real bearing down on goal on more than one occasion.
Following his much publicized tantrum, Ronaldo gave the most telling indication that his troubles were firmly in the rearview, proving markedly cumbersome to the new look City back four. His seventh minute effort signaled an early warning for the guests, as the Portuguese maestro shifted the ball onto his right foot and past Vicent Kompany, to let rip with a sizzling shot that saw Joe Hart expertly save.
Ronaldoâ€™s excursions were far from over though, and five minutes later he threatened to break the deadlock once again. Another foray down the left flank saw the front man drop his shoulder and take the ball to his right side, where his rifled effort skimmed off the head of Gonzalo Higuain, only for Hart to thwart the danger with yet another immaculate save.
Realâ€™s highline was pushing City back, with the hosts rapidly retrieving possession when the ball was lost. And their stranglehold led to a third chance 20 minutes in, when for the umpteenth time Ronaldo ventured down the wing, with his latest strike taking a wicked deflection to fall kindly to Sami Khedira, who blasted over.
City, who were never in the first period, looked out of breath as the match wore on, and a 38th minute injury to Samir Nasri who was replaced by Kolarov further burdened their cause. A Silva half chance was all the Citizens could shout about, and the halftime whistle could hardly have come soon enough.
From the restart, Real quickly reasserted their dominance, with City parking the bus, seemingly in search of an away draw. Two long range Marcelo strikes came close to giving the hosts the lead, but both efforts eventually whistled wide.
City were beginning to frustrate their opponents, as the breakthrough looked far from certain for Real. And as the match seemed destined for a goalless draw, proceedings suddenly spiraled into an unfathomable string of events that will undoubtedly catapult Tuesdayâ€™s match into the annals of Champions league greats.
The sequence was sparked by a 70th minute goal by Dzeko, who was played through on goal by the tireless Yaya Toure, and when Iker Casillas committed to his left, Dzeko had the easiest of tasks in burying his effort in the other direction. City 1-0, with daylight robbery on the cards.
A Toure chance that went begging opened the door for the real, and the Spanish champions responded immediately, when Marceloâ€™s third shot from outside the box finally paid dividends, as it deflected off Nastasic and past the helpless Hart.
Real brought on Ozil and Luka Modric in attempt to add some thrust to their front line, but it was the guests who once again struck with a sucker punch, this time through a wicked 85th minute Kolarov free kick. The Serbianâ€™s delicious left footed delivery, was missed by everyone and with Casillas leaning to his right, the ball whistled into the bottom left corner. Replays showed that Realâ€™s No. 1 was for the second time at fault for his sideâ€™s concession.
Just as it appeared that City would leave with all three points, Real issued a riposte, this time through substitute Karim Benzema, who received the ball on the edge of the box to turn his defender and let fly with an unstoppable strike that surged into the bottom corner.
Real were pressing forward at will now, unrelenting in their quest for victory. And seconds into stoppage time, they astonishingly went ahead through talisman Ronaldo.
City, who had so far ineptly defended their Portuguese foe, once again showed him onto his right, and this time he made them pay as his dipping effort missed the head of Kompany to sneak under Hartâ€™s outstretched arm.
The final whistle saw Hart in utter disbelief, with his team throwing away all three points after leading with five minutes to go. Conversely, Mourinho was overjoyed, as he treated his fans to his patented sliding celebration.
In the other Group C encounter, which consists of four league champions, Borussia Dortmund defeated Ajax Amsterdam with an 87th minute Robert Lewandowski goal.
Meanwhile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the first man to score for six different teams in the Champions league, as he led PSG to a 4-1 rout of Dynamo Kiev, in the French sides first appearance for eight years.
Arsenal came from a goal down to oust Montpellier 2-1, with first half goals from Lukas Podolski and Gervinho.