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Real Madrid 3 Galatasaray 0: match report – Cristiano Ronaldo scores

Real Madrid 3 Galatasaray 0: Classy Ronaldo and Co on course for semi-finals

PUBLISHED:

20:35 GMT, 3 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 3 April 2013

Real Madrid took a huge step towards reaching the last four of the Champions League by strolling to a comfortable victory over Galatasaray at the Bernabeu.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring early in the first half before Karim Benzema doubled the hosts' lead.

Substitute Gonzalo Higuain's second-half header put the result beyond doubt, and made Madrid's task in the second leg at the Turk Telecom Arena next Tuesday look far easier.

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

Up and over: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first against Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu

MATCH FACTS

Real Madrid: Diego Lopez, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao, Khedira, Ronaldo, Ozil (Modric – 80), Alonso, Essien, Di Maria (Pepe 86), Benzema (Higuain 65)

Subs not used: Adan, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Kaka

Booked: Essien, Modric, Ramos

Goals: Ronaldo 9, Benzema 29, Higuain 73

Galatasaray: Muslera, Dany Nounkeu, Kaya, Eboue, Altintop (Bulut 78), Inan, Felipe Melo, Riera (Amrabat 83), Sneijder (Zan 46), Yilmaz, Drogba

Subs not used: Iscan, Balta, Sarioglu, Kurtulus

Booked: Dany Nounkeu, Felipe Melo, Yilmaz, Drogba

Referee: Oddvar Moen

Attendance: 80,000

Galatasaray's coach and players had
insisted before the game that they would try to attack the Primera
Division champions and would not settle for holding out for a draw. They
were loyal to their promise in the first half, but it left them very
exposed at the back.

Madrid, who have the reputation for
being one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe, were given a
generous amount of space by their opponents and made full use of it.

They had their first attempt on two
minutes, Benzema heading just over the bar after a cross from Angel Di
Maria, and they took the lead after just nine minutes.

Xabi Alonso supplied the ball up to
Mesut Ozil from his own half and the German played a one-two with
Benzema, which allowed him space to deliver an excellent low pass into
the path of Ronaldo, who calmly chipped the ball over goalkeeper
Fernando Muslera and into the net.

Gala played pretty football but
struggled to penetrate the Madrid backline and were limited to shots
from outside the area. Didier Drogba turned Raphael Varane on the
18-yard line and shot just over the bar, while Wesley Sneijder also
missed the target from 20 yards.

In the goals: Karim Benzema got the second for the hosts

In the goals: Karim Benzema got the second for the hosts

Sea of red: Galatasaray fans lit a flare to celebrate the occasion

Sea of red: Galatasaray fans lit a flare to celebrate the occasion

Ozil could have doubled the lead when
a long Sergio Ramos header out of defence led to Madrid attacking, but
the midfielder, receiving the ball from Ronaldo, could not put his shot
past Muslera.

Madrid's second goal arrived just
before the half-hour mark. Michael Essien, a surprise inclusion in the
starting line-up at the expense of Alvaro Arbeloa, delivered a high ball
into the box which fell at the feet of Benzema, who was in space, took
one touch to control the pass and slotted home from six yards.

Galatasaray's best chance of the half
fell to Emmanuel Eboue just before the interval. The former Arsenal
player burst through on goal but hit his shot straight at Diego Lopez's
legs.

Sneijder, unimpressive in the first
45 minutes against his former club, was removed at half-time and
replaced by defender Gokhan Zan – a move which saw Fatih Terim's side
switch to a back three, with Eboue pushing up to right midfield.

Struggle: Didier Drogba led the line for the visitors

Struggle: Didier Drogba led the line for the visitors

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

Three and easy: Gonzalo Higuain scored the third with a glancing header

The tactical change did not help the
visitors' attacking ambitions, and they went on to pose even less of a
threat after the break as they had before it.

Madrid also dropped their intensity
in the second period. Ronaldo and Di Maria both had chances to test
Muslera, the better of which fell to the Argentinian, but the goalkeeper
had little trouble with either effort.

Higuain came on for Benzema on 65
minutes and seven minutes later made the triumph secure when he headed
in a free-kick from Xabi Alonso.

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Rough and tumble: Sergio Ramos (left) drags Didier Drogba to the floor in the second half

Jose Mourinho's side rode out the
final minutes of the game with little trouble. Alonso and Ramos both
picked up yellow cards which mean they will miss the second leg.

Achieving victory was much lighter
work for Madrid than their two hard-fought games with Manchester United
in the previous round but, barring a complete collapse in Istanbul, they
can be confident of reaching their third consecutive Champions League
semi-final under Mourinho.

Putting out fires: Sami Khedira (right) and Ramos tackle Burak Yilmaz

Putting out fires: Sami Khedira (right) and Ramos tackle Burak Yilmaz

Over you go: Ronaldo hits the deck after Semih Kaya (centre) backs into the Portugal forward

Over you go: Ronaldo hits the deck after Semih Kaya (centre) backs into the Portugal forward

Furious Man United fans turn on Roy Keane

Furious Man United fans turn on Keane after former captain claims Nani red card was 'right decision'

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

23:08 GMT, 5 March 2013

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UPDATED:

06:09 GMT, 6 March 2013

Manchester United fans have reacted furiously after Roy Keane claimed the decision to send off Nani in the Champions League clash with Real Madrid was the right one.

United fans on Twitter have described Keane as 'bitter' and claim to have 'lost respect' for the former Old Trafford hero.

Keane's comments came on ITV in the moments after the match which saw his former side kicked out of Europe's elite competition by a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Right decision: United fans are furious their former captain failed to support the club

Right decision: United fans are furious their former captain failed to support the club

The turning point of the match came midway through the second half when Nani was shown a straight red for a clumsy challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.

The Portugal international appeared to be watching high ball land and his leg hit the Madrid player in his midriff.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was apoplectic on the touchline, but Keane believes Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir made the right decision.

He said: 'I think the referee has actually made the right call. Everyone's upset about it and it's slightly unlucky, but it's dangerous play. Whether he meant it or not is irrelevant.

'It's dangerous play – it's a red card.

'You have to be aware of other players on the pitch. Does he think he's going to have 20 yards to himself

'Whether it's [a brave decision] or not, it's the right decision. Whether he meant it or not doesn't matter.

'Nani's a quick boy to go down anyway. He's not the bravest player on the planet.'

Keane insisted the referee had carefully considered his decision.

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

Marching orders: Nani was sent off for this challenge during the second half

He added: 'It doesn't matter if he
knows there's somebody there or not, it's irrelevant. I don't think the
referee actually made the decision because he waited a couple of minutes
while the player was getting treatment.

'I think it might have been the assistant that made the decision, and I actually think he's made the right call.

'We always say referees are very quick to make decisions – he waited a couple of minutes.

'Any time I was sent off in my career
I always thought, “did I give the referee chance to send me off” And
if the answer is yes, then it's out of your hands.'

The defeat leaves United battling on
two fronts for domestic silverware, but Keane may not be welcome at the
home of the Barclays League leaders in the wake of his comments.

One Twitter user said: 'Worst thing
to come out of tonight is Roy Keane's dirty comments, absolutely quality
for us as a player but what a bitter fella.'

Another added: 'The last bit of respect I had for Roy Keane has now well and truly gone.'

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

No love lost: Fergie was furious with the referee over the decision to send Nani off

Despite
a highly successful working career together, Keane has blasted his
former boss on a number of occasions since his departure in November
2005.

Keane was unhappy with the way he was ushered out of Old Trafford eight years ago.
An
interview with MUTV in which he was critical of some of his Manchester
United team-mates was given as a reason for his departure after
12-and-a-half years.

Asked if he could envisage a time
when he would have a good relationship with the Scot again, Keane told
The Sun: 'I wouldn’t have thought so, no. He’s a busy man and I’m fairly
busy.

'I said before I
was disappointed the way I was treated at the end, nobody will change
that. But that doesn’t mean to say I’m bitter and twisted towards Man
United. Far from it.

'I can go back there, I just wouldn’t be comfortable so that’s my choice.'

Keane
also told the Sunday Times: 'People say Ferguson always does what is
right for Man United. I don’t think he does. I think he does what is
right for him.'

Real Madrid 1 Manchester United 1: match report

Real Madrid 1 Man United 1: Ronaldo on target against old club after Welbeck opener but De Gea is the hero for Ferguson's side

PUBLISHED:

21:36 GMT, 13 February 2013

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UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 13 February 2013

Manchester United hold the advantage over Real Madrid in their two-legged Champions League showdown following a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

Danny Welbeck handed the Barclays Premier League side the lead after heading home a Wayne Rooney corner with 20 minutes of the last-16 tie gone.

But Real Madrid were level only nine minutes later when Cristiano Ronaldo leapt above former United team-mate Patrice Evra to score a well-executed header.

Hang time: Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club with a well-executed header past David De Gea

Hang time: Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club with a well-executed header past David De Gea

Hang time: Cristiano Ronaldo scored against his former club with a well-executed header past David De Gea

Sir Alex Ferguson selected an attacking side, with Robin van Persie spearheading a front three of Rooney and Welbeck.

But after an even first half, the
away side found themselves on the back foot following the interval with
United goalkeeper David de Gea making a number of strong saves to keep
the tie level.

Hero: Manchester United stopper David de Gea turned in a fantastic display to keep the tie level

Hero: Manchester United stopper David de Gea turned in a fantastic display to keep the tie level

That said United had chances to win
the match. Van Persie hit the frame of the Real Madrid goal after 71
minutes before fluffing his lines with a mishit just moments later.

Ferguson will however, be the happier of the two managers ahead of the return leg at Old Trafford on March 5.

More follows…

Head boy: Danny Welbeck scored the opening goal of the game from a Wayne Rooney corner

Head boy: Danny Welbeck scored the opening goal of the game from a Wayne Rooney corner

Danny Welbeck

.

Making his point: Sir Alex Ferguson selected an attacking line-up to face the Spanish giants

Making his point: Sir Alex Ferguson selected an attacking line-up to face the Spanish giants

Tough to watch: Jose Mourinho cut an animated figure on the touchline during the last-16 clash

Tough to watch: Jose Mourinho cut an animated figure on the touchline during the last-16 clash

Battle: Robin van Persie holds off the challenge from Alvaro Arbeloa as Fabio Coentrao slides in on Wayne Rooney (below)

Battle: Robin van Persie holds off the challenge from Alvaro Arbeloa as Fabio Coentrao slides in on Wayne Rooney (below)

Battle: Robin van Persie holds off the challenge from Alvaro Arbeloa as Fabio Coentrao slides in on Wayne Rooney (below)

It had to be him: Ronaldo is mobbed by his Real Madrid team-mates after scoring for the hosts

It had to be him: Ronaldo is mobbed by his Real Madrid team-mates after scoring for the hosts

Rolling back the years: Real Madrid 3 Leeds 2; March 6, 2001

Danny Welbeck is the first Englishman to score for a Premier League side at the Bernabeu since Alan Smith in 2001.

Smith (below), playing for Leeds at the time, scored the opening goal of the game but the English team eventually lost the tie 3-2 following a brace from Raul and a solo strike by Luis Figo.

On target: Alan Smith

Real Madrid take on Real Sociedad in La Liga

Mission impossible Madrid face daunting challenge to close 16-POINT gap on rivals Barcelona

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

13:07 GMT, 5 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:33 GMT, 5 January 2013

Real Madrid will start what many believe to be mission impossible when the Primera Division restarts for them tomorrow.

Jose Mourinho's side take on Real Sociedad with the gap between them and leaders Barcelona standing at 16 points.

For even the most ardent Madrid fan, a successful title defence would appear to be impossible, with the Champions League now the primary focus.

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

Back in action: Real Madrid train ahead of their match with Real Sociedad

According to defender Alvaro Arbeloa, though, they just have to carry on as normal.

'Real Sociedad are in their best form and it is going to be a difficult match, but we will go into it with desire and belief.

'I just want to win all of our matches from now until the end of the season.'

One sideshow will be who Mourinho starts in goal. There was uproar before Christmas when the Portuguese opted to sit out Iker Casillas and go with Antonio Adam playing in the loss to Malaga.

'The fans will support Real Madrid because they are fans of Real Madrid and not just of Casillas,' said Arbeloa, trying to play down any possible rows.

'It is important that they support the players, but also that they support the team. Whoever plays will have the support of his team-mates.'

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

Speculation: Jose Mourinho could leave Real Madrid in the summer

The lure of a third Champions League title is thought to be driving Mourinho on this season, while the Copa del Rey still remains an option.

Arbeloa does not look at it that way, however, and wants every game to be treated the same.

'If this team wants to win trophies, it is impossible to do that without competing and giving everything in La Liga, and so it is difficult to give everything in the Copa,' he said.

'You cannot pick one day to play well and relax on other days.

'I would just aim to win all the matches. It could be that the Champions League is an easier objective than La Liga, but we are not a team that goes onto the pitch without giving our all every weekend and then does in the Champions League.

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

Rested: Madrid return after the winter break 16 points behind Barcelona

'We have to face all the challenges in our path and to do that you have to win in all the competitions.'

Sociedad head to the capital upwardly mobile. They are seventh in the table and have been producing some eye-catching performances under Philippe Montanier.

Some have backed them to spring a surprise and, although he will not call this a chance, Sociedad midfielder David Zurutuza does acknowledge there have been worse times to play Madrid.

'I don't think there is any good moment to visit the Bernabeu, but yes, if I had to choose a time it would be now, because they are missing important players,' he said.

Manchester City exit is players" fault, says Joe Hart

Hart knows City flops make take responsibility for another early Champions League exit

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UPDATED:

23:21 GMT, 21 November 2012

Joe Hart said Manchester City only had themselves to blame as their Champions League hopes came to an end with a 1-1 draw at home to Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium.

Karim Benzema struck the opening goal for the Spanish champions and Real should have had more in a devastating spell but City grew in confidence as the match wore on and Sergio Aguero levelled from the spot after Alvaro Arbeloa was sent off for a second yellow card.

Early exit: Manchester City have again been kicked out of the Champions League at the group stage

Early exit: Manchester City have again been kicked out of the Champions League at the group stage

Early exit: Manchester City have again been kicked out of the Champions League at the group stage

City poured forward in search of a winner against their 10-man opposition in the closing stages but it was not to be and the result leaves the Barclays Premier League champions with just three points in Group D and unable to progress.

'We're very disappointed. We've had a few opportunities in this group when we could have done a lot better,' England goalkeeper Hart told Sky Sports 2. 'All the games have cost us. We've lost our two away games and not won at home.

'We led in Amsterdam and led in Madrid. It's been a disappointing campaign. We've surprised ourselves in a very, very bad way in this competition.'

The visitors went ahead early on as Benzema peeled away from Maicon to turn in a curling deep cross from Angel di Maria at close range, despite City having plenty of players back in defence.

The goal typified what has been a hugely disappointing campaign for City, and manager Roberto Mancini admitted his side had been below-par on too many occasions.

'The first chance they had, they scored. We made a mistake. We were five against two in the box. When you concede like this it is always difficult,' the Italian told Sky Sports 2. The first half we played so so. We missed one or two chances.

'But we didn't lose tonight, we lost in the first few games – in Madrid we were 2-1 up with five minutes to go; in Amsterdam we were 1-0 ahead and missed some chances to close the game.

'I am disappointed like everyone here. We did some mistakes. When we started this group we knew it was difficult.

Lifeline: Sergio Aguero tucked home a penalty late on, but City didn't have enough time

Lifeline: Sergio Aguero tucked home a penalty late on, but City didn't have enough time

'But we are a good team. You can lose against Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, but we are disappointed – we wanted to go to the next stage. Now it's finished, we can do nothing.'

Mancini also dismissed speculation that City may prefer to finish bottom of their pool following their final group match in Dortmund, rather than take third place ahead of Ajax and with it a place in the often maligned Europa League.

'We want to be in the Europa League, if it is possible,' he said.

For Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, the stalemate meant his side would go into the last 16 as the runners-up in Group D behind Borussia Dortmund, but the Portuguese was unfazed by that prospect.

'The only two times I finished second in the group, I won the champions League,' he told Sky Sports 2. 'It means something (to finish top), but my experience is, it doesn't mean so much.'

Real deal: Jose Mourinho had the last laugh, dumping City out as he had promised pre-match

Real deal: Jose Mourinho had the last laugh, dumping City out as he had promised pre-match

Mourinho was also asked for his take on events at former club Chelsea on the day that Roberto Di Matteo was sacked and replaced by Rafael Benitez on an interim basis until the end of the season.

'That's football,' Mourinho said. 'I'm never happy when a manager is sacked. It can happen to me and is a feeling that no one likes to have.

“But at the same time, everyone knows I like Chelsea.

'I supported Roberto and I wished him to do well, and I will support the next chelsea manager.'

Deportivo 4 Barcelona 5: Match report

Deportivo 4 Barcelona 5: Messi fires in hat-trick as Barca prepare to greet Celtic

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UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 20 October 2012

A Lionel Messi hat-trick only told half of the story as Barcelona held off a plucky Deportivo La Coruna to win a captivating Primera Division match 5-4 at Riazor.

Messi's dazzling display may strike fear into Celtic fans, as the SPL champions travel to Barcelona for Tuesday's Champions League clash.

Saturday evening's game looked to be a one-sided affair when the league leaders raced into a three-goal lead through Jordi Alba, Cristian Tello and Messi after just 18 minutes.

Familiar sight: Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to help Barcelona to victory

Familiar sight: Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick to help Barcelona to victory

However, Depor replied with a Luis
Pizzi penalty and an Alex Bergantinos goal before Messi struck again to
put Barca back in the driving seat.

Pizzi's second of the match then set the nerves jangling once more and the dismissal of Javier Mascherano gave the visitors further food for thought until Messi made it 5-3 with his third.

The excitement did not stop there though, and an own goal from Alba brought Depor back within touching distance of their opponents with 11 minutes remaining.

However, despite their best attempts to grab a deserved equaliser, their luck ran out as Barca held on for the points.

Gonzalo Higuain's cross-cum-shot and a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo helped injury-hit Real Madrid to a comfortable, if uninspiring, 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo.

The recent international break has left Madrid short of options at the back, with full-backs Marcelo, Fabio Coentrao and Alvaro Arbeloa facing spells on the sidelines, but they attacked from the off although Higuain's 11th-minute opener was a touch fortunate.

Struggle: Cesc Fabregas (right) and Barcelona had led by three goals early in the game

Struggle: Cesc Fabregas (right) and Barcelona had led by three goals early in the game

Thrilling: Messi's brilliance once again helped Barcelona to victory

Thrilling: Messi's brilliance once again helped Barcelona to victory

Ronaldo netted from the spot midway through the second half to settle matters after Mesut Ozil tumbled in the area following a rather innocuous challenge from defender Gustavo Cabral.
The win meant Madrid moved up to fourth.

Valencia snatched victory away from 10-man Athletic Bilbao with two late goals in a match between two of the Primera Division's most notable early-season strugglers.

Aritz Aduriz's first-half double, either side of a Roberto Soldado penalty, looked like it would be enough for Bilbao despite Ander Herrera's dismissal on 67 minutes.

But after Tino Costa levelled with just two minutes remaining, substitute Nelson Valdez popped up to head in the winner with barely any time left on the clock.

Joaquin scored the winner three minutes from time as Malaga came from behind to beat 10-man Real Valladolid 2-1.

Manucho had fired the visitors into a shock lead on just nine minutes but Isco levelled the scores eight minutes before half-time with an accurate low finish from Eliseu's cut-back.

The game appeared to being going Malaga's way when Manucho was harshly sent off for a second yellow card nine minutes from time and then the hosts were awarded a penalty when Henrique Sereno felled Javier Saviola in the area, but Joaquin blazed his spot-kick over.

However, the former Spain international made amends two minutes later when he pounced after Dani Gimenez could only parry Martin Demichelis' header back into the danger area.

Me too: Jordi Alba got in on the act

Me too: Jordi Alba got in on the act

Too good: Messi clenched his fist in delight after scoring one of his three goals

Too good: Messi clenched his fist in delight after scoring one of his three goals

Marcelo out of Manchester City Champions League clash for Real Madrid

Champions League boost for City as Real Madrid defender Marcelo is ruled out

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 17 October 2012

Manchester City's chances of progressing in the Champions League have been helped by confirmation Real Madrid's in-form full-back Marcelo will be out for three months with a fractured metatarsal.

The 24-year-old is to undergo surgery in Amsterdam after damaging his foot on international duty with Brazil.

Best foot forward: Marcelo (centre) will be out for the next three months

Best foot forward: Marcelo (centre) will be out for the next three months

He said: 'I hope this will be the first and the last time I pick up a serious injury. I would not wish this on anyone.'

Real's Fabio Coentrao, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain also picked up injuries while on international duty.

Real deal: Marcelo is one of the highest-rated full backs in the world

Real deal: Marcelo is one of the highest-rated full backs in the world

Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2 – match report

Barcelona 2 Real Madrid 2: Anything you can do… Messi and Ronaldo share the goals in Clasico thriller

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UPDATED:

19:59 GMT, 7 October 2012

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo matched each other blow for blow at the Nou Camp, bagging two goals apiece as Barcelona and Real Madrid battled out an entertaining draw in the first Clasico of the Primera Division season.

Tito Vilanova's Barca headed into the game eight points clear of their arch rivals and boasting a 100 per cent record from their first six matches, but found themselves trailing midway through the first half when Ronaldo netted for the sixth straight Clasico.

Anything you can do: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi shared four goals as Real Madrid and Barcelona drew

Anything you can do: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi shared four goals as Real Madrid and Barcelona drew

Anything you can do: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi shared four goals as Real Madrid and Barcelona drew

MATCH FACTS

BARCELONA: Valdes; Alves (Montoya 28), Mascherano, Adriano, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Fabregas (Sanchez 64), Messi, Pedro. Subs not used: Pinto, Bartra, Song, Roberto, Villa

Goals: Messi 31, 61

Booked: Pedro, Busquets

REAL MADRID: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Khedira, Alonso; Ronaldo, Ozil (Kaka 81), Di Maria; Benzema (Higuain 62). Subs not used: Adan, Albiol, Coentrao, Essien, Modric, Higuain

Goals: Ronaldo 23, 66

Booked: Alonso, Khedira, Pepe

But Messi equalised with a scrappy
goal soon after and then put the hosts ahead with a stunning free-kick
on the hour, only for Ronaldo to capitalise on sloppy defending midway
through the second half to ensure honours ended even.

Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta was
handed his first start since the Supercopa aggregate defeat against Real
in August, while Adriano partnered Javier Mascherano at centre-back
with Gerard Pique (foot) and Carles Puyol (dislocated elbow) sidelined.

Madrid coach Jose Mourinho made three
changes from the team that won 4-1 at Ajax in the Champions League on
Wednesday, with Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Angel Di Maria replacing
Michael Essien, Kaka and Jose Callejon.

The visitors began brightly and created the better of the early chances.

First blood: Ronaldo struck the first blow when he unleashed a fierce drive inside the near post

First blood: Ronaldo struck the first blow when he unleashed a fierce drive inside the near post

First blood: Ronaldo struck the first blow when he unleashed a fierce drive inside the near post

Ronaldo – scorer of a midweek
hat-trick in Amsterdam, and the winner in this corresponding fixture
last term to virtually assure Madrid the title – crossed from the right
for Karim Benzema, who miscued his volley horribly wide from 12 yards
when left unmarked in the 13th minute.

Six minutes later, Ozil sent over a
corner and Sergio Ramos leapt above the Barca defence only to direct his
header inches wide of Victor Valdes' goal.

The warning signs had been there but
Barca failed to heed them and the opener duly arrived midway through the
first half. Benzema turned neatly on the edge of the box and fed
Ronaldo, who lashed home a low left-footed finish which beat Valdes at
his near post.

Back on terms: It didn't take long for Messi to haul his side back on level terms from close range...

Back on terms: It didn't take long for Messi to haul his side back on level terms from close range…

Back on terms: It didn't take long for Messi to haul his side back on level terms from close range...

...but Real Madrid cried foul after Pepe ended up on his backside in the build up to the equaliser

…but Real Madrid cried foul after Pepe ended up on his backside in the build up to the equaliser

It could have been 2-0 moments later
when Khedira burst down the right before feeding Benzema. The Frenchman
spooned his effort against the post, though, and Di Maria sent the
rebound wide with the goal at his mercy.

The home team suffered a further blow
when Dani Alves' involvement ended in the game after 28 minutes, the
Brazilian replaced by Martin Montoya.

Big claim: There were several penalty shouts waved away, notably when Andres Iniesta hit the deck after the break

Big claim: There were several penalty shouts waved away, notably when Andres Iniesta hit the deck after the break

However, two minutes later they were
level. Madrid failed to clear their lines from Pedro Rodriguez's cross
and, after bobbling around in the area the ball fell kindly to Messi in
the six-yard box and he lashed past a helpless Iker Casillas and into
the roof of the net.

Both sides had decent penalty shouts
turned down at the start of the second half, Ozil going down after
contact with Mascherano before Iniesta appeared to be clipped by Pepe.

Vilanova's team took the lead in
spectacular style on the hour mark, Messi picking himself up after being
fouled by Xabi Alonso and despatching a brilliant left-footed free-kick
up over the wall and curling away from the diving Casillas.

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Stunning: Messi produced the goal of the night when he shaped a glorious freekick up and into the net

Whatever Messi could do, though,
Ronaldo could do too, and swiftly matched the Argentina forward's eight
goals in La Liga this term six minutes later.

Ozil slotted a slick pass through to
the Portuguese, who had been played onside by Adriano and coolly slotted
past Valdes to get Madrid back on level terms.

The final quarter was end-to-end stuff, although Mourinho's men were seemingly the more content with the point.

Right place: Ronaldo showed his class again after springing the offside trap, despite Victor Valdes' protests

Right place: Ronaldo showed his class again after springing the offside trap, despite Victor Valdes' protests

Right place: Ronaldo showed his class again after springing the offside trap, despite Victor Valdes' protests

Messi floated a shot high and wide from Jordi Alba's cut-back, with Iniesta's cross scrambled clear by Marcelo soon after.

Gonzalo Higuain, a 62nd-minute
replacement for Benzema, saw his cross deflected to safety by Mascherano
before the final few minutes were played out almost entirely in
Madrid's defensive third.

Montoya was almost an unlikely
match-winner on 88 minutes but his right-footed attempt from the edge of
the box crashed back off the bar, before Pedro burst through in
stoppage time and unleashed a left-footed shot which flew just wide.

Special occasion: Barcelona fans used the match as a chance to call for independence for Catalunya

Special occasion: Barcelona fans used the match as a chance to call for independence for Catalunya

Special occasion: Barcelona fans used the match as a chance to call for independence for Catalunya

Real Madrid scouting report: What lies in wait for Manchester City?

Real Madrid scouting report: What lies in wait for Manchester City

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UPDATED:

21:39 GMT, 17 September 2012

Real Madrid’s season has not started well. Two La Liga defeats have left them eight points behind Barcelona and prompted Jose Mourinho to declare, rather dramatically: ‘I don’t have a team.’ On Tuesday we will discover how deep their problems run…

THE BACK DOOR LOOKS OPEN

Madrid fans are used to teams that place defending way down their list of priorities. But Mourinho is no offensive gambler and this is why his team’s current problems are troubling him so much. They have kept only one clean sheet from seven games this season and in Saturday’s defeat at Sevilla they looked remarkably porous.

Dodgy defending: Sergio Ramos has struggled at the back for Real Madrid

Dodgy defending: Sergio Ramos has struggled at the back for Real Madrid

The central partnership of Sergio Ramos and Pepe was far from secure as Madrid conceded in the second minute, Piotr Trochowski scoring unmarked from a corner, and was not helped by Marcelo’s difficulties with basic defensive duties down the left side. Madrid play with two holding midfielders but neither Xabi Alonso nor Sami Khedira are particularly defence-minded, meaning that Mourinho’s back four were often left exposed.

City will spend large amounts of time without the ball but when they do have it they will hope to push numbers up the field quickly to expose their opponents.

BEWARE THE QUARTERBACK

There is not much we don’t know about Alonso after his years with Liverpool but consider this: he is getting better with age. On Saturday, Alonso was one of the few players to emerge with any kind of credit. He will be 31 in November but his football is only maturing and much of what Madrid do that is good stems from or involves him.

Midfield maestro: Xabi Alonso (front) will be crucial to Real Madrid

Midfield maestro: Xabi Alonso (front) will be crucial to Real Madrid

Madrid’s attacking width is provided largely by their full backs, Marcelo and Alvaro Arbeloa, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria tend to work in and around central striker Gonzalo Higuain. It will be Alonso’s job to feed the runs from the full backs, so the one thing City cannot afford to do is give him time to pop off his passes.

Responsibility will fall not only on City’s midfielders but on their own centre forward, in all likelihood Carlos Tevez. Not shy of hard work, Tevez — or indeed Sergio Aguero — must drop off quickly when Madrid build their attacks and be busy around the deep areas Alonso likes to work in.

ANOTHER BOMBING BRAZILIAN

After 11 years of Roberto Carlos, Madrid have another left back cut from the same cloth. Marcelo was given a difficult time on Saturday but the 24-year-old is dangerous when Madrid have the ball.

Bombing Brazilian: Marcelo (second right) will hope to feature on Tuesday

Bombing Brazilian: Marcelo (second right) will hope to feature on Tuesday

There was talk here that he may lose his place to Fabio Coentrao. If he does play, though, Marcelo will fly forward on to City’s right back at every chance and will be one of their greatest attacking threats. He likes to go to ground, too, and will think nothing of pushing the ball into dangerous areas and falling over outstretched legs. Mancini will think hard about who he chooses on the right side of his own midfield as, whoever Madrid’s left back is, the chances are they will have to help out defensively.

Micah Richards and Samir Nasri had a shocking time against Franck Ribery and Phillip Lahm in Munich a year ago and Mancini will not want that to happen again. Step forward James Milner

FEEL THE PRESSURE

Intimidation runs through this Madrid team and the pressure they place on referee Damir Skomina will be immense. The Slovenian will find himself dealing with a team feeling the strain and City will need to be ready for their opponents to hit the deck regularly. Against dead-ball technicians like Ronaldo and Alonso, City will not wish to give set-pieces away.

Cristiano Ronaldo backed by ex-Barcelona chief Joan Laporta

Former Barcelona chief Laporta leaps to Ronaldo's defence over Madrid dispute

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UPDATED:

09:25 GMT, 12 September 2012

Under-fire Cristiano Ronaldo has received an unlikely ally in former Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Ronaldo has been caught in a storm
after being accused of trying to engineer a new 20m a year deal at
Barca's arch rivals Real Madrid by publically claiming he's unhappy in
the Spanish capital.

Unhappy: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

Unhappy: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo

But Laporta feels that the Portugal forward is under a lot of pressure and it is up to Real Madrid to 'make him happy again'.

'Everyone is going over the top on him. We must understand he's under a lot of pressure and is human, because we all are affected by everything around us,' Laporta was quoted as saying by Spanish website AS.

'He said something without realising the impact it would make. That's happened to me as well in the past. The important thing is that he said it because that's how he feels.

Welcome break: Cristiano Ronaldo, left, in action for Portugal against Azerbaijan on Tuesday

Welcome break: Cristiano Ronaldo, left, in action for Portugal against Azerbaijan on Tuesday

'Cristiano is a great professional. It's not easy to speak up and say how you feel when you're clearly under a lot of pressure. It's up to Madrid to make him happy again in the best way possible.'

Real defender Alvaro Arbeloa has also defended Ronaldo, insisting none of his team-mates doubt his commitment to the club.

“Nobody is going to doubt his dedication and commitment to Real Madrid. I think that the fans are very grateful to Cristiano for his hard work and for his goals,” he said.