Goal machine Ronaldo seals another Real win

MADDRID: Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo made it nine goals in seven games by bagging a brace as Real Madrid’s ‘Galacticos’ defeated 10-man Marseille 3-0 in their first Champions League match in front of their Santiago Bernabeu crowd.

It means Real have now won all seven of their matches this season, two in the Champions League and five in the league, and sit top of Group C with a maximum six points. Real blitzed Marseille with three goals in six minutes; Ronaldo, who now has four Champions League goals in two games, scored two and won the penalty that led to the other.

“Cristiano (Ronaldo) is a player that can make a difference at any moment and is always capable of scoring a goal,” said stand-in captain Guti. “We want to try and get through this group as soon as possible by winning it. For now we have a big league game on Sunday against Sevilla who are on a roll but then so are we.”

Marquee summer signing Ronaldo opened the scoring on 58 minutes and then won a spot-kick three minutes later which saw Marseille centre-back Souleymane Diawara dismissed for a second yellow card. Kaka converted the penalty kick and Ronaldo struck again in the 64th minute to show why Real paid a world record 94 million euros for his services.

Captain Raul, the all-time top-scorer in the Champions League, had to be content with a place on the substitutes’ bench as new French star Karim Benzema started against his compatriots. Ronaldo and Kaka joined Benzema in an attacking trident with Xabi Alonso and Fernando Gago employed in defensive midfield.

Off the pitch there was a beefed-up police presence, after Marseille’s last visit to Madrid saw them clash with baton-wielding riot police at the Vicente Calderon during a group match with Atletico Madrid. There was no repeat of those ugly scenes, though.

At the GSP Stadium, Chelsea made harder work than necessary of a second Group D win as they beat Apoel Nicosia 1-0. Nicolas Anelka steered home a precise angled strike just inside the far post to open the scoring. Chelsea were in control but nearly paid the price for not adding to their lead when Savvas Poursaetides’ deflected shot was saved by Petr Cech’s legs.

Constantinos Charalambides also headed a far post header agonisingly high late on for Apoel as Chelsea held on. It ended in unconvincing fashion for the visitors as it seemed they let complacency get the better of them. They were far superior to their Cypriot rivals but — after their domination of the first half — stepped off the gas and almost gave the vociferous home fans an unlikely cause for celebration.

Apoel’s supporters had been in party mood from the start as they enjoyed their team’s first ever home game in the group stages of the Champions League. But they had little to cheer as Chelsea slowly started dominating possession and it did not take long for the pressure to create a breakthrough. The ball was spread wide on the right to Juliano Belletti and he jinked past two defenders before pulling the ball back for Anelka to finish with aplomb.

At Manchester, Manchester United fought back from a goal down to beat a feisty VfL Wolfsburg side 2-1 and move top of Group B. Midfielder Michael Carrick struck the winner 12 minutes from time after Ryan Giggs’s deflected free kick had cancelled out a fine header from Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko which handed the German champions a shock lead soon after halftime.

United, seeking to reach the final for the third season in a row, started slowly and striker Michael Owen, struggling with a groin injury, had to be replaced by Dimitar Berbatov after just 20 minutes. United’s threat was limited in the opening period and the closest they came to breaking the deadlock was a Carrick shot that was blocked by Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

At Munich, Franck Ribery missed out on scoring a memorable goal as wasteful Bayern Munich were held to a goalless draw at home by Juventus. Ribery provided the highlight of the match when he slipped craftily between two defenders in the penalty area but dinked his shot over the crossbar in the 19th minute.

Juventus also had their chances in an entertaining first half but the match went off the boil after the break. Both teams are unbeaten after two games in Group A. Bayern have four points while Juventus, who also drew their first match at home to Girondins Bordeaux, have two.

In other matches, FC Zurich defeated AC Milan 1-0; Bordeaux beat Maccabi Haifa 1-0; CSKA Moscow beat Besiktas 2-1; and FC Porto beat Atletico Madrid.