Real Madrid 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Ronaldo and Asensio unhinge a competitive PSG performance

Ronaldo hit his 100th and 101st Champions League goals whilst Asensio created two from the bench in the final ten minutes.

Real Madrid 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain: Ronaldo and Asensio unhinge a competitive PSG performance
Ronaldo equalises from the spot before grabbing a second late on (photo: Getty Images / Angel Martinez)
Real Madrid
3 1
PSG
Real Madrid: Navas; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro (Vazquez 79), Isco, Kroos (Asensio 79); Benzema (Bale 68), Ronaldo
PSG: Areola; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Berchiche Izeta; Verratti, Lo Celso (Draxler 84), Rabiot; Mbappé, Cavani (Meunier 65), Neymar
SCORE: 0-1 Rabiot 33, 1-1 Ronaldo 44, 2-1 Ronaldo 84, 3-1 Marcelo 87

A Cristiano Ronaldo double gave Real Madrid a two-goal advantage going into their Champions League second leg tie with Paris Saint-Germain, although the French side have won all of their home matches so far this season.

Anticipation grows for a 'dream tie'

The holders against the pretenders. The most decorated club in the competition against the side looking to dominate for years to come. Real Madrid against Paris Saint-Germain was undoubtedly the most anticipated tie of the round.

Zinedine Zidane took his Galacticos into the contest under immense pressure. 17 points off the La Liga pace and out of the Copa Del Rey, the Frenchman has to make an impact in the Champions League but chose to leave Gareth Bale on the bench. 

In contrast, PSG are romping towards the Ligue 1 table but also made a surprise inclusion as Thiago Silva was replaced by Presnel Kimpembe. Yet the young defender is somewhat of a good luck symbol for his side, winning 21 of the 22 games he started. 

Rabiot strikes as Real switch off

Reflecting the electric atmosphere, the contest got off to a thrilling start. Cristiano Ronaldo flashed an effort across goal as he latched onto an Isco loft over the top before Toni Kroos forced Alphonse Areola into a smart stop from range. Neymar then released Yuri Berchiche who lashed an effort wide when granted space at an angle in the penalty area.

A couple of petulant moments involving the Brazilian players duly followed. Marcelo screamed louder than the Bernabeu crowd after a challenge by Dani Alves and an ill-advised hack by Neymar on Nacho granted the striker a caution moments later as the game settled down into more of a tactical bout at a slower tempo.

Unsurprisingly, it was Ronaldo who went closest to breaking the deadlock midway through the half. The best player on the planet in 2017 fired over from a free-kick before being thwarted by the face of Areola after Marcelo played the striker through with an excellent curved pass.

At the other end, the most expensive player on the planet sprinkled some magic to cut past Nacho and Casemiro but could not get any relevant purchase on his strike to truly test Keylor Navas. Sergio Ramos then met a Kroos corner but could only cushion his header into the arms of Areola.

You could feel the game about to ignite and it did just that on 33 minutes. Kylian Mbappe had been on the fringes of the game but skipped past Marcelo before delivering a telling cross into the area. Nacho failed to clear his lines and Adrien Rabiot picked up the loose ball to coolly slot past Navas.

 

Ronaldo draws the hosts level just before the break

Another chance fell to Ronaldo after he picked up a loose ball from Yuri Berchiche only for the Portuguese to lash his strike over. PSG went straight down the end as Neymar created space for Edinson Cavani only for Casemiro to get a vital touch on the strike to deflect it just wide.

Real's most industrious moment of the half came with just two minutes left on the clock. Marcelo played a neat inside pass to Karim Benzema who forced Areola into a wonderful fingertip save. Yet the resulting short corner took PSG by surprise and Giovani Lo Celso lost Kroos just inside the box before pulling the German down. Ronaldo stepped up to fire into the bottom corner with his 24th goal of the season...and this is a 'poor year' for the striker. It was all his 100th Champions League strike.

Defences on top for majority of second half

The hosts made a strong start after the break but it was PSG who created the first opportunities of note. Neymar created space and laid the ball to Mbappe but his accurate drive was palmed away by the outstretched hand of Navas. Moments later, a neat interchange between Dani Alves and Marco Verratti was worked to Rabiot but his clean strike was bravely blocked by Ramos.

As it did at a similar stage in the first half, the game descended into a sparring contest with both sides wary of conceding the next goal. That was certainly the case for the visitors as they opted to make a defensive change midway through the half with defender Thomas Meunier replacing Cavani. Meanwhile, Zidane introduced Bale in place of the relatively quiet Benzema.

Although very few clear-cut chances were being created, there was always the feeling that one mistake could prove costly. The game became more stretched but both defences looked strong and organised, epitomised by another excellent block by Ramos as a PSG corner fell to the feet of Kimpembe.

Introduction of Asensio creates two late but critical Real goals

Real slowly started to pose a threat as a Ronaldo strike was blocked by Marquinhos and Bale was thwarted by Kimpembe before their patient gameplay was rewarded. Substitute Marcos Asensio slid a pass across the box which was palmed by Areola but straight at Ronaldo who bundled Real into the lead.

Just three minutes later, PSG were left with a mountain to climb. Marcelo and Asensio combined down the left as the latter found the former who volleyed his strike into the ground and past Areola to put Real 3-1 ahead with just minutes to play.

However, loose defending almost gave the visitors a lifeline before the second leg. Raphaël Varane failed to clear his lines and the ball fell to Mbappe but the striker was kept out by Navas at his near post. PSG then had a chance to steal a second away goal with the final kick of the game but Neymar could only fire over from Julian Draxler's cross. 

The result gives Real a crucial two-goal advantage going into the second leg but PSG proved they a far from out of the contest with a competitive display at the Bernabeu.