Ronaldo leads way as Real top group

Olympique Marseille 1 Real Madrid 3

Another Cristiano Ronaldo master class featuring two phenomenal goals eased Real into the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Real emerged from Group C as winners with confirmation that you really do get what you pay for. It might have cost them £80 million to take Ronaldo to Madrid but his goals at the start and finish of this game were of such exceptional quality that no-one in Spain will be quibbling at the price.

The Portugese star began with a trademark free kick goal, an up-and-over the defence job from 25 metres that then dipped and swung into the top corner. That came in the fourth minute and was followed by the piece de resistance 11 minutes from the end.

Chasing a long ball, Ronaldo collided with a defender and the on-rushing goalkeeper. As the ball spun loose with all three players on the ground, Ronaldo leapt to his feet, spun around once and squeezed his shot into the empty net with extraordinary aplomb. In between, Albiol restored Real's lead with a 59th minute after Ronaldo had hit a post with a header.

Ronaldo's threat had simmered all evening at the Stade Velodrome. Panic was never hard to discern upon the expressions of the Marseille defenders whenever the Portugese star gained possession.

Real looked less convincing at the other end, unsettled at times by Brandao's rampaging if somewhat un-subtle runs. They, too, panicked in conceding an 11th minute equaliser after Taye Taiwo had roared down the left and crossed from the by-line. A header back on the far post was met with a horrid defensive hoick and Lucho was close in to steer his shot into the net. This wasn't royal or Real defending; just the rough version.

Tragically for Lucho, he then missed a second half penalty that would have made it 2-2, his shot rebounding from the crossbar.

But if Ronaldo was crucial to the cause up front, Lassana Diarra was the busy bee in midfield who oiled the Real wheel. Diarra worked assiduously, breaking up attacks, creating others and protecting his defence like a guard dog. For the most part it was enough.

Olympique Marseille Mandanda; Taiwo, Cisse, Cheyrou, Lucho, Brandao, Niang, Abriel, Heinze, Diawara, Bonnart.

Real Madrid Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Ramos, Ronaldo, Diarra, Marcelo, Albiol, Higuain, Alonso, van der Vaart.

Referee: W. Stark (Germany)

Comments