Ronaldo strikes late to sink City

Real Madrid 3 Manchester City 2

Former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo sank Manchester City with a dramatic late winner in their Champions League Group D opener against Real Madrid.

City looked like they might snatch a clash in which they had been outplayed when Aleksandar Kolarov struck late on.

But Madrid responded to the delight of the Bernabeu as Karim Benzema levelled and Ronaldo won it at the death.

The visitors had taken a 1-0 lead against the run of play through substitute Edin Dzeko in the second half but Marcelo quickly cancelled out the strike.

City boss Roberto Mancini had made a bold decision to hand a debut to new signing Matija Nastasic and leave Joleon Lescott on the bench, while fit-again striker Sergio Aguero was also among the substitutes.

David Silva and Gareth Barry also returned to the starting line-up, with Carlos Tevez playing alone up front.

Real went into the game in disappointing form after winning just one of their opening four Primer Liga matches.

Manager Jose Mourinho, under heavy scrutiny, promised not to make major changes but those he did make sent out a clear message.

It was not a surprise that playmaker Mesut Ozil failed to making the starting line-up after some criticism but the absence of defensive lynchpin Sergio Ramos was unexpected.

Raphael Varane came in at the back and looked composed, while Michael Essien's introduction in midfield ahead of another playmaker in Luka Modric added solidity.

There seemed little wrong with the side Mourinho fielded as they dominated possession throughout, but found goalkeeper Joe Hart in inspired form.

Ronaldo twice tested Hart in the opening minutes, first after being released by Essien.

The Portuguese, booed loudly by City's vocal fans, cut inside Vincent Kompany but Hart was equal to his low effort.

Ronaldo then beat Maicon on the left to extend Hart again but City survived.

Alvaro Arbeloa then did well to beat Gael Clichy but Hart saved low down.

Angel di Maria lofted a cross in for Higuain but failed to make firm contact as Hart stood tall. The ball rebounded for Ronaldo to attempt a spectacular effort but it was deflected and Sami Khedira fired over.

City had an opportunity after a good break by Yaya Toure but Samir Nasri's effort was blocked.

It proved Nasri's last meaningful involvement as he limped off moments later to be replaced by Kolarov.

City went close again before half-time, Toure again instrumental in their break but David Silva was unable to get away a clean shot.

Real finished the first half strongly with Higuain volleying over and Di Maria bending a low shot wide.

The second half began in much the same manner with Marcelo flashing a shot wide and then firing over.

The Spaniards appeared to be completely monopolising possession but City broke away to open the scoring against the run of play in the 68th minute.

Toure was again the driving force and his ball for the newly-introduced Dzeko was perfect. The Bosnian took the pass in his stride and finished with great composure.

The lead could not last. Madrid produced a strong response and this time Marcelo got lucky as he cut inside and fired a shot past Hart, with the possible aid of a deflection off Javi Garcia.

The game then became a dramatic end-to-end affair and Hart produced another superb save to deny Higuain.

City were not content to sit back for a point and looked like they might snatch it when a Kolarov free-kick from the right crept through the box, taking a slight touch off Xabi Alonso, to hit the net with four minutes remaining.

However, Real sensed the urgency and powered forward in a pulsating finish.

Benzema, who replaced Higuain with 17 minutes remaining, turned brilliantly on the edge of the area and levelled with an equally composed finish. It was the least the hosts deserved - but Hart did not deserve to be beaten.

The England goalkeeper again showed his brilliance in the dying moments to save from Ronaldo - but the Bernabeu hero could not be kept out long and he fired in a low shot in injury-time.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003