Cengiz Under’s miss at the end of one and Roma’s brutal defensive mistake at the beginning of the other half were the defining moments in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win in Rome.
Roma starting lineup: Robin Olsen, Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas, Federico Fazio, Aleksandar Kolarov, Steven N’Zonzi, Bryan Cristante, Nicolo Zaniolo, Cengiz Under, Stephan El Shaarawy, Patrick Schick
Real Madrid starting lineup: Thibaut Courtois, Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal, Marcos Llorente, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Lucas Vazquez, Karim Benzema
The first 20 minutes of the match were a tactical battle in which neither team was able to distance itself from the opponent and force it into its own half for a prolonged period of time. In the 22nd minute, Stephan El Shaarawy, who complained of an injury moments earlier, was fouled by Luka Modric. The Italian forward couldn’t continue, so Eusebio Di Francesco was forced to make his first change, which was the young Dutchman Justin Kluivert. The home team did get some pressure after the 30th minute, when a couple of Cengiz Under corner kicks ended in a triple scoring opportunity. Patrick Schick had the best of them, while Aleksandar Kolarov’s long-range effort whiskered by the post.
Then, in stoppage time, we witnessed one of the misses of the season. Dani Carvajal played an unnecessary backheel pass near the corner flag and fooled his teammate Raphael Varane. The ball came to Schick, who immediately crossed it to a wide open Cengiz Under. All the Turkish international had to do was tap the ball into the net from two meters out, yet he somehow managed to send it over the bar. Disbelief enveloped the stadium. What a miss! The half-time score remained 0-0.
An awful mistake led to Real Madrid’s opening goal at the beginning of the second period. Robin Olsen’s poor kick put Fazio in an uncomfortable position, but that doesn’t justify his gift to Gareth Bale. The Welshman didn’t hesitate, setting himself up and punishing Roma’s defense.
⚽️ Gareth Bale's record in this competition :
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) November 27, 2018
A lightning quick counter attack by Real Madrid nearly led to a second goal just a couple of minutes later. Gareth Bale sprinted towards goal, but his weak attempt was easily saved by Olsen. In the 59th minute, Los Blancos made it 2-0 through Lucas Vazquez. Karim Benzema’s header was the one that set him up, while Gareth Bale was the one who sent the initial cross.
— Rey (@ReyLaMadrid) November 27, 2018
The goals definitely shook Roma, who went all-in and left acres of space behind for counter attacks. Di Francesco’s second substitution was Ante Coric for Steven N’Zonzi. A visibly exhausted Nicolo Zanioli departed the pitch in the 69th minute, making way for Rick Karsdorp. Roma wanted to take the game to Real Madrid, but simply couldn’t. The goals deflated the Italians, who struggled to maintain control of the ball. Later on, Solari made his first substitutions, replacing Benzema with Mariano Diaz and Modric with Federico Valverde. The clock was ticking away, as Giallorossi were unable to create scoring opportunities. Eventually, it was all over. It might not have been pretty, it might not have been deserved either, but Real Madrid got the victory and secured first place in Group G, at least for the time being.