Inspired Ronaldo spurs Madrid

Zidane's men score crucial 2-0 away win; Draxler brace gives Wolfsburg edge

Inspired Ronaldo spurs Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo hit his 89th Champions League goal while second-half substitute Jese added a late second as Real Madrid took a massive step towards the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win at Roma.

After weathering a frustrating first half in which Roma failed to finish off a series of promising attacks, Ronaldo broke the deadlock on 57 minutes when he ran on to Marcelo’s chip to beat Wojciech Szczesny with a shot that deflected off Alessandro Florenzi.

It was the Portuguese forward’s 12th goal in seven games this term. The victory gives Real a huge advantage ahead of the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in three weeks time.

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti had deployed a 4-3-1-2 formation which left no space for Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko, although he came on to replace Stephan El Shaarawy after he limped off in the second half.

Real were restricted to a series of half-chances before the interval, the best of which came from Brazilian left-back Marcelo when he volleyed Ronaldo’s clever lob just wide of Szczesny’s far post.

It took only seconds for Roma to threaten after the restart, Salah’s pace taking him into the box but Real were able to clear. El Shaarawy did well to run on to a long ball but came off worse when goalkeeper Keylor Navas rushed out to clear.

Ronaldo recovered quickly from a sore mouth suffered in a fair shoulder charge to stun the stadium into silence just before the hour. Lucky to escape the offside call, the Portuguese ran on to Marcelo’s lob, turned inside and unleashed a shot that came off Florenzi to leave Szczesny clutching at thin air.

Ronaldo looked inspired and he sneaked behind Roma’s defence and ran onto Karim Benzema’s chip, but his delivery sailed across the goalmouth with no takers.

Dzeko replaced El Shaarawy just after the hour and soon after fans were up out their seats when Radja Nainggolan set up Salah, but the Egyptian could only toe-poke a weak shot at Navas while under pressure.

Salah then dispossessed Marcelo in midfield and his pace took him past Sergio Ramos to fire low across the area, but Raphael Varane produced a timely block.

Sighs of relief were heard around the stadium moments later when Ronaldo’s header from a long cross on the right beat Szczesny only to sail past the far post.

But Roma were finally subdued four minutes from time when Jese used several players as a screen before sending an angled drive past Szczesny and into the far corner.

Draxler shines

Julian Draxler scored twice as VfL Wolfsburg took a big step towards reaching the quarterfinals with a 3-2 victory over Gent in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday.

Draxler struck in the 44th minute after a classy dribble past midfielder Thomas Foket and a quick one-two with Vierinha before tucking the ball past the keeper.

Gent started the second half much improved, pushing for an equaliser, but Draxler netted again in the 54th minute as he capitalised on one of many errant passes by the Gent defence.

Max Kruse then made it 3-0 and also came close to adding a fourth goal before the home team rallied with two strikes in the last 10 minutes from Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly.

Gent defended sloppily from the start and only began putting pressure on Wolfsburg's inexperienced keeper Koen Casteels towards the end of the match.

The Germans will now fancy their chances of going through when the teams meet in the second leg on March 8.

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