In what was a fitting end to a tumultuous past few weeks for the club, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho identically celebrated Real Madrid’s 90th minute winner against Manchester City in the Group Stages of the European Champions League.
Madrid had dominated the first half but had to come from behind thrice to win 3-2 in a frantic final 21 minutes where Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov scored for the visitors while Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Ronaldo were on the score-sheet for Madrid.
Edin Dzeko had given City the lead with a calmly slotted goal in the 69th minute after Yaya Toure had broken away in his trademark style. The Bosnian striker virtually scored with his first attack, having just being brought on for David Silva.
But Real were back in the match as left-back Marcelo’s deflected effort beat the brilliant Joe Hart. The Brazilian was easily their most impressive player and had been testing Hart from distance for quite some time before his patience paid off.
With the hosts knocking on the door for a winner, City were playing on the counter with the harrying Carlos Tevez and Dzeko combining well up front. But it was Kolarov’s freekick which beat everyone to the goal. Xabi Alonso had attempted a sliding clearance but missed and the ball took one bounce in front of Iker Casillas before crossing the goal line.
But the action was far from over. Angel di Maria worked a ball to Benzema who executed a lovely spin before precisely finishing to equalise things on the 87th minute.
Moments later the Frenchman was in the middle of another Real attack, setting up Ronaldo in the box but the ‘sad’ no.7′s shot was beaten away by Hart.
With the clock touching 90 minutes, Marcelo played a ball wide on the left to Ronaldo and the Portuguese skipper cut-in, found himself a yard and slammed in the winner.
But what will really stand out in the win is the way player and manager celebrated… with both sliding on their knees with fists clinched— knowing that this could be the moment the club was waiting for since their disastrous start to the La Liga season.
Madrid were clearly deserving winner one could say, with a mammoth 29 shots in total out of which 16 were on target and had it not been for the influential presence of Joe Hart between the sticks, City would have returned home with a mauling.
Ronaldo himself was a pivotal figure in the match but was thwarted time and again by City’s stubborn defence. Summer signings Michael Essien and Luka Modric also played the match with both making vital contributions.
Maybe City manager Roberto Mancini will rue the fact that he opted for Gael Clichy at left back— the ex-Arsenal man clearly unable to block the runs from Di Maria. But what really changed things was the substitution of Maicon. The new signing from Inter Milan excelled in his role till he was taken off in favour of Pablo Zabaleta in the 74th minute.
With German champions Borussia Dortmund, Dutch giants Ajax and English champions Man City in their group, this victory will certainly boost Real Madrid’s chances of making the last 16.