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Goal machine Ronaldo seals another Real victory

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Goal machine Ronaldo seals another Real victory

MADRID (AFP) – Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo made it nine goals in seven games by bagging a brace as Real Madrid‘s ‘Galacticos’ defeated 10-man Marseille 3-0 on Tuesday in their first Champions League match in front of their Santiago Bernabeu crowd.

It means Real have now won all seven of their matches this season, two in the Champions League and five in the league, and sit top of Group C with a maximum six points.

Real blitzed Marseille with three goals in six minutes; Ronaldo, who now has four Champions League goals in two games, scored two and won the penalty that led to the other.

“Cristiano is a player that can make a difference at any moment and is always capable of scoring a goal,” said stand-in captain Guti.

“We want to try and get through this group as soon as possible by winning it. For now we have a big league game on Sunday against Sevilla who are on a roll but then so are we.”

Marquee summer signing Ronaldo opened the scoring on 58 minutes and then won a spot-kick three minutes later which saw Marseille centre-back Souleymane Diawara dismissed for a second yellow card.

Kaka converted the penalty kick and Ronaldo struck again in the 64th minute to show why Real paid a world record 94 million euros for his services.

Ronaldo went off shortly after his second goal with a knock to his right ankle which makes him a doubt for Sunday’s match with Sevilla.

AC Milan‘s shock 1-0 defeat at home to FC Zurich gives Real a three-point lead in the group and Madrid now have a double-header against Milan starting at home on October 21.

“We are scoring goals and not conceding them, which is always good,” said Xabi Alonso. “We have two games against Milan now which will test us. The first game is at home so we have to make that advantage count.”

Captain Raul, the all-time top-scorer in the Champions League, had to be content with a place on the substitutes’ bench as new French star Karim Benzema started against his compatriots.

Ronaldo and Kaka joined Benzema in an attacking trident with Xabi Alonso and Fernando Gago employed in defensive midfield.

There were familiar faces to the Real fans in the Marseille line-up as Argentine defender Gabriel Heinze and veteran striker Fernando Morientes returned to their old stomping ground.

Heinze spent two seasons at the club before being let go by incoming coach Manuel Pellegrini in the summer while Morientes won three Champions League titles with Real and was given a warm welcome from the home fans.

Off the pitch there was a beefed-up police presence, after Marseille’s last visit to Madrid saw them clash with baton-wielding riot police at the Vicente Calderon during a group match with Atletico Madrid.

There was no repeat of those ugly scenes, though, and the match took centre stage although it was a low-key opening from Real, who only had a half-chance from Sergio Ramos to show from the first 20 minutes.

Marseille, fourth in their domestic league, had a chance of their own on the quarter-hour mark but Iker Casillas was on his toes and raced out to swipe the ball from visiting captain Mamadou Niang.

On 26 minutes the Senegalese star skipped past Pepe but had to shoot from an acute angle and Casillas was on hand again to save with his chest.

It was a warning that appeared to spur Real into action and Benzema went agonisingly close twice.

First of all the ex-Lyon striker saw a brilliant overhead kick go just over and was then thwarted in a one-on-one by goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

In the second half Real found their stride and took the lead through a route-one goal, with Pepe’s long ball finding Ronaldo who carefully placed a low shot beneath the advancing Mandanda.

The former Manchester United man then drew a foul from Diawara which earned the defender a second yellow card and allowed Kaka to put Real 2-0 up with a confidently taken penalty.

Ronaldo continued his rich vein of form in front of goal with an easy tap-in to wrap up the game after slick inter-play between Benzema and Kaka.

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Ten-man Inter held by Rubin Kazan

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Ten-man Inter held by Rubin Kazan

MOSCOW (AFP) – Italian champions Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw in their second Champions League group stage match at Russian champions Rubin Kazan on Tuesday.

Argentine striker Alejandro Dominguez scored a superb opener for the hosts, who chalked up their first point in the Champions League, while Serbian midfielder Dejan Stankovic was on target for Inter.

“I wish we could get more points from two matches but everything goes as it goes,” Inter manager Jose Mourinho said after his side were left on two points from two draws in Group F which also includes Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev.

“Kazan’s good playing was not a surprise for me. They performed very spectacular football in front of their home crowd.

“Rubin could win but we also had chances to clinch three points. In general I’m satisfied with the result.”

The hosts, playing their first ever Champions League game on home turf, made a lively start and Inter, who had three wins and one defeat in six previous matches against Russian opposition, were initially content to sit back.

Their cautiousness backfired in the 11th minute, when the mercurial Domeadinguez received a pass from Alexander Bukharov before dribbling past two Inter defenders and firing a rising shot into the roof of the net past Julio Cesar.

Jose Mourinho’s side responded positively, creating several scoring opportunities, but Kazan’s Spanish defender Cesar Navas spurned a clear-cut chance to extend his side’s lead when he headed Dominguez’s cross wide from close range.

Inter levelled after 25 minutes, with the unmarked Stankovic heading home Maicon’s precise centre from the right flank.

Roared on by a capacity 25,000 crowd, Kazan took the game to their illustrious opponents in the second period and their hopes of victory were boosted when Inter striker Mario Balotelli was sent off for a second bookable offence just after the hour-mark.

The Italian champions found themselves pinned back in the game’s last 10 minutes and Kazan skipper Sergei Semak came inches away from securing all three points when his right-footed effort from the edge of the six-yard box struck Julio Cesar’s left-hand post and rebounded to safety.

“We played with courage and discipline but unfortunately missed our chances in the second half,” Rubin coach Kurban Berdyev said. “I’m happy with my players’ creative performance tonight but a little bit upset with the result.

“We need to keep on working hard to keep alive our chances for a place in the play-offs.”

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