Ronaldo nets in narrow Madrid win

Cristiano Ronaldo's lone strike earned Real Madrid a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Keylor Navas started in goal for the trip to Switzerland, while Alvaro Arbeloa, Raphael Varane and Fabio Coentrao formed a new-look defence in what was otherwise a full-strength Madrid team, with Isco staying on in Luka Modric’s absence.

Despite chances coming at a premium the first half proved a feisty encounter as both sides displayed an attacking intent with Los Blancos dominating possession for most part.

17-year-old Breel Emobolo was the hosts' most potent goal threat, showcasing great dribbling and strength at times, but he failed to match his raw talent with finesse and was lucky to avoid a booking after a strong challenge on Coentrao.

But the cream eventually rose to the top, as Ronaldo made the difference with 10 minutes of the half remaining. Karim Benzema's mazy run saw him evade two Basel defenders, before his cross was bundled home by Ronaldo in the box.

Nonetheless, Madrid were extremely fortunate preserve their advantage. In the dying embers, Shkelzen Gashi's drilled ball across goal was met by Tomas Gonzalez at the far post, yet the Argentine somehow slid his effort over the bar.

Madrid continued to assert their authority on the match after the restart, and they almost doubled their lead, were it not for Ronaldo's failure to fling himself onto the end of James Rodriguez's tantalising low cross from the left wing.

Moments later, the Portuguese superstar shaped up for a free kick from distance, but his swerving, dipping drive was expertly tipped wide of the post by Tomas Vaclik.

Basel then enjoyed their best spell. First, Gashi slashed a volleyed attempt in the box high and wide, amid suspicions of a Sergio Ramos handball, while Embolo snuck in behind and forced Navas into a terrific stop down low from point-blank range.

Embolo threatened again, this time firing a snapshot wide of the Spanish giants' net, but the visitors were ready to wrestle back control. Gareth Bale shot to prominence with a piledriver, which slammed against the underside of the crossbar.

The world's most expensive player was then involved in a free-flowing Madrid move, which saw him collect Coentrao's forward pass and roll the ball in the path of Ronaldo, although the 29-year-old could only manage to strike the post with the goal at his mercy.

Meanwhile, Fabian Schar could consider himself fortunate to have avoided anything beyond a yellow card after he deliberately scythed Ronaldo to the ground with a dangerous lunge, catching his adversary’s ankle in the process.

The game petered out with Ahmed Hamoudi's curling finish in injury time, but not before a series of fans bizarrely invading the pitch and subsequently prolonging Madrid's introduction of Nacho.

Basel 0-1 Real Madrid

Ronaldo 35

Basel: Vaclik; Degen (Hamoudi 76), Schar, Suchy, Safari; Gonzalez, Elneny, Frei (Diaz 83), Zuffi (Kakitani 87), Gashi; Embolo

Real Madrid: Navas; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Coentrao; Kroos, Isco (Nacho 90), James (Marcelo 89); Bale, Benzema (Illarramendi 71), Ronaldo

Referee: Milorad Mazic [SER]

Tags Basel Cristiano Ronaldo
La Liga - Club News