Ronaldo Back In Style For Real, Spurs End Wembley Jinx
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace on his return from suspension for Real Madrid, as Tottenham Hotspur ended their Wembley jinx and Liverpool were held on their Champions League comeback on Wednesday.
Real have sorely missed their Portuguese superstar as he serves a five-match domestic ban for pushing a referee.
But he wasted no time in making his towering presence felt against APOEL Nicosia, scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross, and then doubling his tally from the penalty spot before Sergio Ramos’s overhead kick rounded off the cosy 3-0 win.
Ronaldo has now struck 12 times in his last six Champions League games.
“He is the best in the world. We know he will always score goals,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
“With a bit more luck today he could have scored four. Cristiano has so many goals in him and we feel it.”
“Hopefully he stays in form. You can’t question the levels he reaches every year,” added Ramos.
The titleholders top Group H with Tottenham, who ended their woeful Wembley run with an impressive Harry Kane-inspired 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.
Already scarred by damaging Wembley defeats in the Champions League and FA Cup semi-finals last term, Tottenham had lost to Chelsea and drawn with Burnley this season, sparking alarmist talk that they were jinxed at the hallowed north London venue.
But, after losing eight of their previous 12 matches at Wembley, Kane’s predatory finishing ensured Tottenham finally enjoyed a night to remember in their temporary lodgings.
Son Heung-Min’s first goal of the season put Tottenham ahead early on with Andriy Yarmolenko conjuring a sublime equaliser.
Kane, who scored twice in Saturday’s win at Everton, restored Tottenham’s advantage before the interval and wrapped up the victory with his second goal after half-time.
The only blemish for Spurs was a late sending off for a second bookable offence for Jan Vertonghen, who swung his forearm into Mario Gotze’s face.
“It was so important to win, we are so happy. We increased our level in the second half and were very clinical,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said.
“It is more than three points. The team is more mature now. Harry Kane was fantastic.”
– Costly Firmino miss –
At Anfield, Roberto Firmino’s first-half penalty miss proved costly for Liverpool as Joaquin Correa scored a dramatic equaliser to grab Sevilla a 2-2 draw.
Anfield was in jubilant mood as the English club welcomed back Champions League football after a two-year absence, but it took Sevilla just four minutes to dampen the enthusiasm.
After Wissam Ben Yedder had given the Spanish side an early lead, goals from Firmino and Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead, only for Firmino to miss a penalty.
On the hour, Sevilla manager Eduardo Berizzo was dismissed for throwing the ball away from Liverpool’s Joe Gomez as he tried to take a throw-in, but his disappointment was eased, thanks to Correa, on 72 minutes.
“Of course I’m not happy with the result but I’m happy with a big part of the game,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“A lot of times when good teams play each other, the games are kind of boring, but this game was the opposite. And that was due to the desire, the passion, the greed of my team.”
Liverpool and Sevilla were joined on one point in Group E by Spartak Moscow and Maribor, who drew 1-1 in Slovenia.
Manchester City ran out the biggest winners of the night with a 4-0 rout of Feyenoord in Rotterdam courtesy of goals from Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and John Stones’ double.
City coach Pep Guardiola commented: “We did not play back… We were aggressive… We had the legs to run on the side, especially on the right and created the chances. Enough to win the game comfortably.”
Shakhtar Donetsk beat Napoli 2-1 to share the summit in Group F.
French champions Monaco were held 1-1 at competition newcomers RB Leipzig in Germany as Besiktas topped Group G with a 3-1 win at Porto.