ROME. – Zinedine Zidane won’t admit it yet, but 10-time winners Real Madrid remain on course for a sixth consecutive Champions League soccer semi-final appearance after a clinical 2-0 win at Roma in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Wednesday night.
World Cup winner Zidane won the competition as a player with Real in 2002 and as assistant to former Carlo Ancelotti when the “Galacticos” claimed their record 10th European Cup or “Decima” in 2014.
On the night he made his debut as a head coach in the competition, the Frenchman who ended his career by being sent off for head-butting Italian Marco Materazzi in the final of the 2006 World Cup, was left rejoicing with his players on the touchlines as they underlined their status as co-favourites alongside Bayern Munich and holders Barcelona.
After weathering a frustrating first half in which an inspired Roma side failed to finish off a series of promising attacks, Cristiano Ronaldo broke the deadlock on 57 minutes when he ran on to Marcelo’s chip to beat Wojciech Szczesny with a shot that deflected off right-back Alessandro Florenzi. It was the Portuguese forward’s 12th goal in seven Champions League games this term and lifted huge pressure off the shoulders off Zidane.
“Everyone expects Ronaldo to score, and he fulfilled expectations,” said Zidane. – AFP.