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Madrid made to sweat to reach CL quarter-finals

SPORTYOU SPORTYOU 09/03/2016 sportyou
El Real Madrid pasa a cuartos con susto incluido © Getty Images El Real Madrid pasa a cuartos con susto incluido

There was a moment in this game when the electronic scoreboard could well have shown 0-3, but in the end it was 2-0. There is a simple explanation for this. The Roma forwards managed to waste a succession of chances while their Real Madrid counterparts did not miss theirs. For an hour there was fear at the Bernabéu, until the Blancos' top marksman put an end to the anguish they had been suffering despite the two-goal advantage they enjoyed from the away leg.

This game was nothing like the first leg. Spalletti sent out a much more offensive starting XI and this was noticeable from the outset. Roma gave Madrid a scare early on when Dzeko was put through for a one-on-one with Keylor Navas, the goalkeeper foiled him. The hosts did not have too rough a time of it in the first half, because they had the game mainly under control while the visitors contrived to waste their best chances. Salah shot wide in another one-on-one with the Madrid 'keeper, but gave the home crowd a scare.

The game was fun to watch up until the break. It was end-to-end stuff, intense and with both teams playing the ball out quickly. Salah was a handful down the right flank, mainly because Marcelo was more concerned with attacking than defending. It was there that the Italian side showed most danger, but they were overly innocent when it came to the final pass or shot.

Madrid were hardly at their best, either. Zidane played Bale on the left wing and Cristiano Ronaldo as centre forward, with James out on the right. The outcome of all of Madrid's combinations were a great many clearances from the Roma defence and more attempted shots from their second line. Casemiro shone in this respect, stealing balls and giving Ramos help in keeping an eye on Salah. Half time came with no score but it could well have been different, with Roma in front, as it was the visitors who had had the best chances. Cristiano Ronaldo was the only one to show anything in front of the visitors' goal, but he was also unable to find the net in the first 45.

Madrid had a harder time in the second half. There was a spell when they were actually experiencing diffculties, but Keylor Navas was always there to put down any threat of rebellion from the Italians. The Bernabéu crowd continued to bite their nails until, finally, Cristiano Ronaldo found the mark when he latched on to a great pass from Lucas Vázquez, who had minutes before replaced the tiring Gareth Bale. The tie ended there, but the sensation that it could have been a different story if they had been playing against a side with a little more substance remained in the air.

Roma then attacked more and inevitably left more spaces at the back, a circumstance that Madrid were able to take advantage of to seek out their opponents' goal. The second strike came from a counter attack, an effort from the much-questioned James.

Real Madrid, 2; Roma, 0

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