Real Madrid left it late to come from behind to beat Manchester City in a thrilling end to their opening Champions League Group D clash.
Both Coaches sprung some selection surprises for this opening fixture in the group stages, with Jose Mourinho opting to bring in Raphael Varane and Michael Essien in place of Sergio Ramos and Mesut Ozil. Mourinho’s counterpart Roberto Mancini similarly picked youngster Matija Nastasic in the heart of City’s defence over Joleon Lescott.
A conservative start by both sides saw the home side shade possession, and then attack City in sporadic flurries.
Cristiano Ronaldo proved an early outlet to test Joe Hart twice before the 11-minute mark, before focus then saw teammates Alvaro Arbeloa, Gonzalo Higuain and the more advanced Sami Khedira all have opportunities close to the midway point of the half.
The visiting English appeared reluctant to commit men forward, with only Yaya Toure’s bursts from midfield asking something of the Real defence.
Higuain pulled another chance over the bar, before the teams went in level at the break.
Real continued to press in the second half, but were restricted predominantly to long-range efforts, with Marcelo notably going close twice through this route.
Despite this more defensive showing in the second period, the visitors brought on Edin Dzeko and within six minutes he proved the difference. Toure again burst through the middle of the park for a two-on-two break, before sliding in the Bosnian who wrong-footed Iker Casillas for 1-0.
Mourinho responded as he had in previous games at Getafe and Sevilla, with attacking substitutions, by bringing on both Luka Modric and Karim Benzema. It immediately paid off as Real equalised as Marcelo benefited from extra space to see his third attempt from range take a deflection and loop over Hart.
The goal was followed up by an active period of play in which the home side pushed the Manchester side back into their area with sustained pressure for the first time in the match, but, it was just as City continued to threaten on the counter-attack.
However, as soon as this passage of play dissipated, City took the lead from a set-play, as Aleksandar Kolarov’s in-swinging free-kick from the right beat everyone to curl beyond Casillas into the far post.
But, the lead lasted just a minute as Benzema turned on the edge of the area and finished sharply beyond Hart for his first goal in four months.
Real continued to push for the winner and got it as Ronaldo cut in from the left and his bouncing effort fell under Hart and into the net for 3-2 as the game entered stoppages.
Real Madrid 3-2 Manchester City
Dzeko 69 (MC), Marcelo 76 (RM), Kolarov 85 (MC), Benzema 87 (RM), Ronaldo 90 (RM)
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Essien (Ozil 65), Alonso, Khedira (Modric 74); Di Maria, Higuain (Benzema 74), Ronaldo
Manchester City: Hart; Maicon (Zabaleta 74), Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy; Nasri (Kolarov 36), Barry, Toure, Javi Garcia, Silva (Dzeko 62); Tevez, Balotelli
Ref: Skomina (SVN)
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