Real Madrid 3-0 APOEL: Ronaldo stars as champions down Cypriots

Cristiano Ronaldo makes his presence felt as Real Madrid beat Cyprus giants APOEL Nicosia 3-0 to begin their UEFA Champions League title defense in style at the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old, who was coming back after serving a four-match ban following his controversial red card and pushing of referee in the first-leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona last month, showed Real exactly what they were missing in their last two games when the Los Blancos were held to disappointing draws, giving four points lead to rivals in the league title race.

Kroos and Varane left out

Manager Zinedine Zidane selected an interesting line-up, where he started Nacho Fernández ahead of Raphaël Varane at the back with Sergio Ramos, where midfielder Toni Kroos was also benched and Croatian Mateo Kovacic started.

In the absence of first-choice striker Karim Benzema, who was injured in 1-1 draw against Levante UD at the weekend, Zidane started with Gareth Bale and Ronaldo upfront alongside Isco.

However, young Kovacic was substituted in the 25th minute due to injury, and was replaced by Kroos.

Horrid first-half performance

Real’s first-half display was less than convincing by every means, as even though the team did managed to finish the half with a 1-0 scoreline, the reality was far from it.

The game’s first chance came to APOEL, who had numerous other openings but failed to take any advantage.

At the 12th minute mark, Real’s first real move gave them the lead when the trio of Isco, Bale and Ronaldo proved too hot to handle for the opposition.

Real’s only other significant move of the first-half came after few minutes of the goal, when Ronaldo, once again on the cross of Bale, headed the ball to the side netting.

<a id='p4C9X1wASQNxxTvUWqEVMg' class='gie-single' href='' target='_blank' style='color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;'>Embed from Getty Images</a><script>window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:'p4C9X1wASQNxxTvUWqEVMg',sig:'XsyrfSGnz7WheOLPaRwl0kbRPNHiFWq8y4NhNaBmolM=',w:'594px',h:'396px',items:'846597776',caption: true ,tld:'',is360: false })});</script><script src='//' charset='utf-8' async></script>

Better outing in the second period

In the second-half, however, it was a completely different story as the reigning European champions dominated the game throughout and in the 52nd minute doubled their advantage when Ronaldo scored his second of the match, this time from the penalty spot.

Nine minutes later, Real captain Ramos sealed the deal with an overhead strike on the rebound of Bale’s header.

Zidane gave Champions League debut to two young guns, new signing Daniel Ceballos who came in place of Isco in the 73rd minute and striker Borja Mayoral, who came for Bale in the 82nd minute. However, neither of the youngsters were able to make any significant impact.