Dominant Real earn slender victory over Juve
A glancing header from Ivan Helguera gave a dominant Real Madrid a slender 1-0 win over Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.
The Real centre-back angled his header into the top corner after England captain David Beckham had swung in an in-swinging free kick from the left just after the half hour.
But the nine-times European champions will have been left feeling short-changed after a game they dominated from start to finish against an ultra-conservative Juventus side.
In a cagey start the two sides traded a series of tough challenges in midfield and looked to play on the break.
But it was a determined-looking Real who were the first to show when Ronaldo hooked a volley over the bar after Roberto Carlos had wafted in a cross from the left.
The Brazilian striker had another half chance when Raul slipped a pass into his path a minute later, but Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon reacted sharply to swipe the ball off his feet.
Real suffered a setback in the ninth minute when right back Michel Salgado was forced out with what appeared to be a knee injury, but they continued to take the initiative against the unambitious Italians.
Roberto Carlos was a constant threat with his rampaging runs down the left, while Zinedine Zidane, who gave an outstanding performance against his former club, probed for gaps in the crowded Juve defence.
The Brazilian created a great chance for his side in the 25th minute when he fired a cross into the area after Zidane had put him clear on the left, but Raul hit the top of the bar with his shot.
Real, though, made no mistake six minutes later when Helguera flicked a header past Buffon and into the far corner.
Juve's only threat in the first half came from a couple of wayward shots from midfielders Emerson and Pavel Nedved around the half hour mark.
But the Czech international, who was making his first start in a month after recovering from a knee injury, left the field a few minutes later after a clash of heads with Real substitute Raul Bravo.
The Spaniards continued to dominate after the break, Figo curling a measured shot a metre wide after Buffon had punched a Roberto Carlos into his path and the Juve keeper turning a low drive from Ronaldo away for a corner.
Juve managed to break up the rhythm with a series of tough challenges in midfield that saw Manuele Blasi pick up a booking that will see him miss the return in Turin on March 9.
The Italians finally cast off some of their caution in the last quarter and Casillas produced two excellent reflex saves to deny first substitute Ruben Olivera and then Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the two strikers fired in stinging shots from the fringe of the area.
It was Real, though, who went closest to getting the ball in the net for a second, when Samuel rattled the post with a bullet header after a quickly taken corner 12 minutes from time.