MADRID/February 15, 2018(AP)(STL.News) — Cristiano Ronaldo scored a goal in each half as Real Madrid came from behind to defeat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 in their first-leg match in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday.
PSG struck first with a goal by Adrien Rabiot, but Ronaldo equalized by converting a penalty kick just before halftime and added to the lead in the 83rd. Marcelo sealed the victory three minutes later to give the two-time defending champions a commanding lead heading into the second leg in Paris on March 6.
PSG showed its strength against the European champions, playing well in an exciting back-and-forth match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium, but Madrid’s late goal significantly hurt its chances of finally succeeding in the Champions League.
This was PSG’s first major test since the Qatari-funded club spent a record 222 million euros to get Neymar from Barcelona with the aim of becoming a major force in European soccer.
Madrid, a 12-time Champions League winner, has won the tournament in three of the last four seasons.
Ronaldo reached 101 Champions League goals in 95 matches with Madrid, a record for a player with the same club. He has 11 goals in seven Champions League matches this season.
Liverpool thrashed Porto 5-0 in Portugal in Wednesday’s other Champions League match.
Madrid had appeared in control but PSG opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with Rabiot’s shot from inside the area on a play that involved all three PSG forwards. Kylian Mbappe started it with a run on the right side, then Edinson Cavani smartly let the ball through after Mbappe’s cross into the area and it ended with Rabiot after Neymar’s attempt was deflected by a defender.
Not long before the goal, Ronaldo squandered one of the game’s best chances in a one-on-one situation with Alphonse Areola, his shot hitting the goalkeeper’s face. Ronaldo also missed a few minutes later, sending a close-range shot over the crossbar.
But he was perfect from the penalty spot just before halftime after Toni Kroos was gently pulled inside the area by Giovani Lo Celso, the young midfielder who was a surprise addition to the starting lineup in place of Lassana Diarra.
Areola dived the correct way — to his right — but wasn’t able to stop Ronaldo’s firm shot. Areola had just made a brilliant save on Karim Benzema’s well-placed strike from just outside the area.
It was PSG which was in command in the second half, creating most of the significant chances, but Ronaldo struck again by scoring the go-ahead goal with his knee after Areola parried a low cross by substitute Marco Asensio.
It only got better for Madrid when Marcelo scored from inside the area after another cross from Asensio from the left side.
The game had to be briefly stopped in the second half after a cross by Neymar hit the face of referee Gianluca Rocchi who received medical assistance.