Ronaldo and James in Champions League

It was always going to be an uphill battle for Roma going into their second leg fixture against Real Madrid. Los Blancos had already grabbed an emphatic two-goal away victory last match day, and it would take nothing short of a miracle for the Italian club to overcome the deficit. The Santiago Bernabéu Stadium has been an absolute fortress for Madrid during their European escapades with Cristiano Ronaldo and Co., outscoring their opponents 13-0 through three games. Could Luciano Spalletti’s squad defy the odds and knock out a heavily favored Real Madrid side?

The first real chance of the match actually fell to the visitors in the 14th minute. Mohamed Salah did well to beat his man and find Edin Dzeko open in the box, but the Bosnian striker wasted his one-on-one chance with a wayward effort. Madrid responded with a chance of their own several minutes later as Wojciech Szczesny was forced to deny a deflected shot from Luka Modric in the 21ist minute.

Salah was once again involved in a Roma chance just before the half hour mark. The former Chelsea winger was slotted in by Dzeko on the right wing but fired his shot into the wrong side of the side netting. At this point in the match, Roma could have easily been back on level terms with Madrid but they just couldn’t finish their chances.

Despite their slow start to the match, Real Madrid began to come alive after Salah’s misfire. Ronaldo twice tested Szczesny only for the Polish keeper to deny him both times. An entertaining first half came and went without a goal for either side, and Roma still found themselves within touching distance going into the second 45 minutes.

Roma’s habit of missing chances continued in the second half. Just five minutes into the half, Salah again found himself one-on-one against Keylor Navas but once again failed to even put his effort on target. As the missed chances started to pile up, Roma had to feel like it just wasn’t their day.

Five minutes after Salah’s close call, Roma finally forced Keylor Navas into a save thanks to Alessandro Florenzi’s powerful drive. Seconds later, the Costa Rican keeper came up with another big save, this time from Kostas Manolas’ close-range drive. Was it just a matter of time before the Italians found the back of the net?

With an hour gone in the match, Real Madrid’s high-powered offense really hadn’t clicked yet. After their quiet start, Madrid found an “undeserved” opener in the 64th minute. Ronaldo, as he usually does, was the one to put his side on the board. CR7 beat Szczesny and Manolas to Lucas Vasquez’s cross and redirected the ball into the back of the net.

James Rodriguez registered the misery compiler and the dagger just minutes later. The Colombian was slotted in by Ronaldo and snuck his tight-angle effort through Szczesny’s legs. The goal put Madrid 4-0 up on aggregate and all but ensured their spot in the quarterfinals. Ronaldo should have added another goal to the lead in the 69th minute, but he somehow missed a sitter just eight yards from net.

After James’ goal, Roma lost their passion on the pitch. Those missed chances from Dzeko and Salah in the first half proved decisive as the Serie A club were shutout in the Spanish capital. Despite their shaky victory, Madrid still have to be seen as one of the favorites remaining in the tournament, and no team will be hoping to pull their number come the draw.


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