For Real Madrid, the road to a fourth consecutive European Cup triumph began at home to Roma, and it was a comfortable beginning. Prior to this game at the Bernabeu, skipper Sergio Ramos had pointed out how Real needed to put Cristiano Ronaldo behind them, and rightly so.
But on evidence of the first half, it was clear they needed someone of his finishing ilk up front, as only poor decision-making and profligacy prevented Julen Lopetegui’s side from reflecting their dominance over Roma with goals. They did get one before halftime, though, an delightful free-kick from Isco going past the wall and Roma goalie Robin Olsen, to give Los Blancos the lead at the interval.
That lead was doubled, after some more misses, midway through the second period. From a superb Luka Modric through ball, Gareth Bale, who had been guilty of missing a host of chances, finally found the net, his low shot rifling into the top corner.
Real sealed the win in stoppage time, substitute Mariano Diaz, on his second debut, curling a brilliant effort into the top corner to put the cherry on a dominant display. Three and easy for Real, yet it could, and really should, have been more.
As Cristiano Ronaldo’s former club Real were on duty against Roma, the Portuguese was on the pitch with his current side Juventus at Valencia. But Ronaldo’s time on the pitch at the Mestalla didn’t last long, as he was sent off, after a coming together with Jeison Murillo, much to his outrage.
Not that Juve would be too affected by playing a man less, as two penalties from Miralem Pjanic ensured they began their European campaign with a win in Group H.
Also in Group H, Manchester United eased past BSC Young Boys in Switzerland. The hosts had a bright start, and managed to trouble the United defence, while Roger Assale and Ali Camara tested David de Gea with long range shots, but United went into halftime with a two-goal advantage, after a double from Paul Pogba, the second of which was a penalty.
Pogba turned provider in the second period, playing in Anthony Martial in the 66th minute, for the latter’s first goal of the season, as Jose Mourinho and his side top their group after Matchday One.
Elsewhere, Olympique Lyon stunned Manchester City with a 2-1 win at the Etihad stadium, Nicolas Tagliafico bagged a brace for Ajax as they beat AEK Athens, while Shakhtar Donetsk twice came from behind to draw with Hoffenheim.
Young Boys 0-3 Manchester United
Manchester City 1-2 Lyon
Real Madrid 3-0 Roma
Valencia 0-2 Juventus
Plzen 2-2 CSKA
Shakhtar 2-2 Hoffenheim
Benfica 0-2 Bayern Munich
Ajax 3-0 AEK Athens
Image Credit: Guardian