Madrid salvo sends Roma packing

Real Madrid reached the Champions League quarter-finals but needed a second-half salvo to defeat Roma 2-0 in Tuesday’s last-16 second leg.

Zinedine Zidane made five changes from the Madrid side which demolished Celta Vigo 7-1 on Saturday, beginning at left-back, where Marcelo came in for Dani Carvajal, with Danilo moving across. In midfield, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric were back alongside Casemiro, while James Rodriguez partnered Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in a trident attack at the expense of Borja Mayoral, who was left out completely.

Roma, on the other hand, brought in Ervin Zukanovic and Seydou Keita from the first leg three weeks ago as they were obliged to overturn a 2-0 deficit, and their first-half performance was fit for a team in their predicament.

So much so, it was Roma who had the best of the chances as Edin Dzeko was away in the clear down the left but could only fire his one-on-one with Keylor Navas at the goalkeeper.

The Giallorossi then should’ve scored a second goal, when Mohamed Salah led his team’s charge on the opposite flank and broke into the Madrid box, but his shot rippled the Costa Rican’s side-netting.

Nonetheless, Madrid were spared and responded with opportunities of their own, but Wojciech Szczesny was in fine fettle as he went down low twice to keep out low strikes from Bale and Ronaldo.

The second half began with Ronaldo looking to catch Szczesny off his line with a cross, which Bale acrobatically volleyed on target, but the Welshman’s strike was kept out by the goalkeeper.

A Madrid gift then allowed Salah in behind, with only Navas to beat, but the winger slotted the ball wide, despite the entire goal being at the Egyptian’s mercy, before the custodian turned Alessandro Florenzi’s explosive drive from the right around his post.

As the hour mark approached, Modric came a whisker away from conjuring up some much-needed Madrid magic, when his half-volley flew inches wide of Szczesny's far post, but not before Kostas Manolas’ point-blank finish from a corner at the back post was pushed away by Navas.

A Zidane substitution, however, tipped the game in Madrid’s favour as substitute Lucas Vazquez took his man on down the right, before drilling a cross into the Roma box for Ronaldo to lift past Szczesny for his 90th Champions League goal.

Los Blancos then hit a second goal in a four-minute salvo, Ronaldo slipping in James down the left and the midfielder driving a perfectly-angled finish into the bottom-right corner of Szczesny’s net for his first European goal of the season.

It should’ve got better for the hosts when James led a breakaway and held the ball up for Vazquez, who then picked out a totally-unmarked Ronaldo in the box, but the Portuguese only managed to send his close-range finish wide.

Roma’s miserable evening was capped off through former Sevilla man Diego Perotti’s volley crashing a volley against the post as Madrid held on for a place in the last eight and Navas became the goalkeeper with the second longest shutout of over 850 minutes in the Champions League.

Real Madrid 2-0 Roma (4-0 agg.)

Ronaldo 64, James 68

Real Madrid: Navas; Danilo, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric (Jese 76), Casemiro (Kovacic 84); James, Ronaldo, Bale (Vazquez 61)

Roma: Szczesny; Florenzi, Manolas, Zukanovic, Digne; Pjanic (Vainqueur 46), Keita (Maicon 86); Salah, Perotti, El Shaarawy (Totti 74); Dzeko

Referee: Marciniak [POL]

Tags Roma