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No Ronaldo? No Problem For Madrid In Champions League vs Roma

Madrid easily dominated Roma to open its campaign with a comfortable 3-0 home win on Wednesday.

Updated
Football
2 min read
Real midfielder Isco celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s opening goal during their  Champions League match against Roma in Madrid on Wednesday.
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Real Madrid showed it can still compete in the Champions League even without Cristiano Ronaldo.

In its first Champions League match without the star forward in nearly a decade, Madrid easily dominated Roma to open its campaign with a comfortable 3-0 home win on Wednesday.

Francisco "Isco" Alarcon, Gareth Bale and Mariano Diaz took care of the scoring in Ronaldo's absence, securing the victory for the three-time defending champions.

Real Madrid will always be Real Madrid, no matter who leaves. We keep on trying to win, keep on trying to score goals.
Gareth Bale
Real midfielder Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during their Champions League match against Roma  in Madrid on Wednesday.
Real midfielder Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during their Champions League match against Roma in Madrid on Wednesday.
(Photo: AP)

It was a disappointing opener for Roma, which is coming off a semi-final appearance last season.

Madrid dominated from the start and created most of the scoring chances throughout the game at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen, replacing Alisson Becker after the Brazilian moved to Liverpool in the offseason, put on an outstanding display to keep the Spanish hosts from scoring more goals.

But there was nothing Olsen could do on Isco's free kick just before halftime. The Swedish goalkeeper watched as the ball was expertly curled over the wall and went in the far corner.

"The team played a great match in all aspects," Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui said. "We created countless chances and we clearly deserved to win."

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Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen (right) defends a shot from Realmidfielder Isco during their Champions League match in Madrid on Wednesday.      
Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen (right) defends a shot from Realmidfielder Isco during their Champions League match in Madrid on Wednesday.     
(Photo: AP)

Bale almost increased Madrid's lead with a close-range shot that struck the crossbar early in the second half but the Wales forward did make it 2-0 in the 58th with a well-placed low shot after a superb through ball from Luka Modric.

The third goal came in stoppage time with a nicely struck shot from outside the area by Diaz, who had replaced Bale in the 73rd. Diaz was given Ronaldo's No. 7 jersey after rejoining the club in the offseason.

Bale was the only player from Wednesday's lineup who hadn't started for Madrid in the Champions League final nearly four months ago in Ukraine. His place was taken by Ronaldo at the time.

In addition to Ronaldo's departure, coach Zinedine Zidane quit and was replaced by former Spain manager Julen Lopetegui.

It was the first time that Lopetegui didn't opt to play with Marco Asensio up front along with Bale and Karim Benzema, although Isco was often near the attackers when Madrid held possession. Lopetegui also kept Keylor Navas in goal despite the recent arrival of Thibaut Courtois, voted the World Cup's best goalkeeper with Belgium.

Madrid next faces CSKA Moscow in Russia on Oct. 2.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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