Real Madrid defeats Schalke 2-0 in the Champions League
Ronaldo and Marcelo score for Los Blancos
Real wins its 10th straight game in the competition
Basel and Porto drew 1-1 in the other game Wednesday
Three games without scoring constituted a slump for Cristiano Ronaldo. But the drought is now over for the three-time world player of the year.
Ronaldo netted the opener and assisted on Marcelo’s thunderbolt as Real Madrid moved closer to a place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League by defeating Schalke 2-0 in Germany on Wednesday.
The result couldn’t match Real’s 6-1 thrashing of Schalke in the first leg in the same round last year but the home side still faces an uphill task of eliminating the defending champion.
“It was good,” Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told Sky Sports. “I think we started well with a good rhythm in the game and a good attitude and then after the first goal the game was easier.
“We didn’t need to push to score and we controlled the game well. At the end the victory was good for us.”
Real Madrid – bidding to become the first club to retain the title in the Champions League era – won for a 10th straight time in the competition to equal Bayern Munich’s record, although the early stages of the contest favored Schalke.
Indeed in the battle of Italian coaches who have lifted the Champions League trophy, Roberto di Matteo and his team bettered Ancelotti’s troops for the first 25 minutes.
Schalke neutralized the attacking trio of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, with Iker Casillas forced to dive to keep out Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s long range effort.
Real Madrid took the lead in the 26th minute when Ronaldo headed Daniel Carvajal’s cross past an out of position Timon Wellenreuther – and was never really troubled thereafter.
Buoyed by his goal, Ronaldo attempted a bicycle kick moments later and then saw the inexperienced Wellenreuther soar to his right to repel his free kick. A vital interception from the 19-year-old Wellenreuther foiled Bale’s bid to set up Ronaldo.
“It is clear that Cristiano Ronaldo lives to score goals,” Ancelotti was quoted as saying by UEFA. “It’s never a problem for us when he doesn’t score for a couple of games. But he, of course, minds.”
Not one to sit back and protect a lead, Real Madrid continued to race forward in the second half.
A poor touch from Ronaldo near the box prevented a chance but Isco should have done better when Bale’s clever flick sent the Spanish international in all alone in the 72nd minute.
Having barely tested Casillas, Schalke caught the Real Madrid defense napping in the 74th minute and almost equalized.
A long ball over the top found its way to Atsuto Uchida, whose layoff fell perfectly to Felix Platte. Platte – in for the injured Huntelaar – struck the crossbar.
Marcelo settled the affair – and probably the tie – when he sent a rocket into the top corner with his right foot, not his favored left, in the 79th minute. He exchanged a hug with a joyous Ancelotti.
“We are not used to seeing Marcelo score with the right foot, so for this I was really surprised,” Ancelotti told Sky.
Ancelotti then laughed when it was suggested to him that Real Madrid was under less pressure in the Champions League this season because it captured a 10th title – or ‘Decima’ – last year.
“The pressure is the same,” he said. “Last year we spoke of the ‘Decima.’ This year it’s about (an 11th title) so the pressure is the same.”
In Wednesday’s other game, Basel and Porto played to a 1-1 draw in Switzerland. Basel scored with its lone shot on target in the 11th minute thanks to Derlis Gonzalez but Porto – which had a goal disallowed for offside in the first half – earned a valuable away goal through Danilo’s penalty in the 79th.