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Ronaldo's brace buries shorthanded Juventus

Updated: 2013-10-25 07:28
By Reuters in Madrid ( China Daily)

Red-hot striker again on target as Madrid takes charge of Group B

Cristiano Ronaldo continued his blistering start to Real Madrid's Champions League campaign when he struck twice in a 2-1 win at home to 10-man Juventus on Tuesday that put Real firmly in charge of Group B.

The Portuguese forward's double took his goal tally in Europe's elite club competition to seven in three appearances this season, only the second player to achieve the feat after AC Milan's Filippo Inzaghi.

Ronaldo, who has also been in prolific form in La Liga, put Real ahead in the fourth minute at the Bernabeu when he sped onto Angel Di Maria's pass, rounded Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and finished superbly from a tight angle.

 Ronaldo's brace buries shorthanded Juventus

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo eludes Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to score during their Champions League match at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Wednesday. Paul Hanna / Reuters

Spain forward Fernando Llorente leveled for the visitors in the 22nd minute before the referee ruled Giorgio Chiellini had impeded Sergio Ramos in the penalty area and Ronaldo put away the 29th-minute spot kick.

Italy centerback Chiellini had a night to forget as he was shown a straight red card three minutes into the second half when he checked Ronaldo's run down the right with a flailing arm, and Juve hardly threatened Real's goal for the rest of the game.

"We have taken a very important step towards securing qualification," Real captain Iker Casillas said.

"It wasn't easy but we have taken the first step, getting nine points from three matches," said the Spain keeper. "We have to go to Turin now and at least avoid defeat."

Ronaldo's brace lifted him above former Real and Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy into third on the all-time list of Champions League top scorers, with 57 goals.

Only Barcelona forward Lionel Messi with 63 and Raul, another ex-Real forward, with 71 are ahead of the 28-year-old.

There was no place in the Real starting lineup for Gareth Bale, who succeeded Ronaldo as the world's most expensive player during the offseason.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti deployed Di Maria on the right despite Bale's return to action after injury as a second-half substitute against Malaga at the weekend.

The 100 million euro ($138 million) Wales winger replaced Karim Benzema with just more than 20 minutes left but failed to make much of an impact and did not manage to complete a single pass.

France striker Benzema turned in another disappointing performance, fluffing one easy chance on the hour when he was in front of an empty goal, and was again roundly whistled by the impatient Real fans.

Their treatment of the 25-year-old was in stark contrast to the warm ovations given to Llorente and Juve playmaker Andrea Pirlo when they made way in the second half.

Juve, a two-time European champion, came into the match in Madrid after taking its first defeat of the Serie A season when it squandered a two-goal lead and conceded four times in 14 minutes to lose 4-2 against Fiorentina.

"We are disappointed with the result, but I think we played a very good game," Juventus striker Carlos Tevez said.

"It was very difficult in the second half with 10 men," said the Argentine.

"We don't have to make excuses, we made mistakes today and when you make mistakes against these opponents you are always punished."

(China Daily 10/25/2013 page23)