|Real Madrid proved
there is still life at the Bernabeu as captain Raul scored twice to lead a
heroic fightback and earn the home side a 4-2 victory over AS Roma in Champions
League Group B on Tuesday.
Real, in crisis after three defeats in four games and the shock departure of
coach Jose Antonio Camacho, were in even deeper trouble when Daniele De Rossi
put the Italians ahead in the third minute and Antonio Cassano doubled the lead
in the 22nd.
Roma went into the game in equally bad shape, however, and the Italians, playing
under Ezio Sella following coach Rudi Voeller's weekend resignation, never
looked like having the nerve to hold on to their lead.
Raul chipped in from the edge of the box to get the home side back into the game
six minutes before the break, Luis Figo scored from the penalty spot and then
set up Raul for his second and Roberto Carlos blasted in the fourth 10 minutes
Raul's double took his goal tally in the Champions League to 47, two short of
Alfredo di Stefano's all-time record in the European Cup.
Victory for Real, playing their first European game under Mariano Garcia Remon,
gave them their first points in Group B, after a 3-0 defeat away to Bayer
Leverkusen in their opening match.
Defeat leaves Roma facing a desperate fight to make it through to the knock-out
phase, after they were consigned to a 3-0 defeat when their opening match at
home to Dynamo Kiev had to be stopped when the referee was hit by a missile from
Kiev top the group with a maximum six points after beating Leverkusen 4-2 on
The Roma players only had themselves to blame this time after squandering the
two-goal lead handed to them by a Real side who were looking a nervous wreck.
The first came in the third minute, when Real failed to clear a corner and let
in De Rossi to take a lofted through ball from Traianos Dellas and clip it past
Real, their pride stung, started to attack with a bit of purpose but with
Zinedine Zidane playing at half pace on his return from a shoulder injury, they
lacked the finesse to unlock Roma's defence.
Roma were going forward only half heartedly themselves but Francesco Totti's
astute pass wrong-footed the home defence in the 22nd minute, Simone Perrotta
touched the ball back and Cassano shot in off the post.
Crucially, Real managed to claim a goal back before the break, when Raul swept
the ball over Ivan Pelizzoli from the edge of the box.
Roma should have restored the two-goal lead when Cassano jinked inside the box
and crossed for Christian Panucci to head wide at the far post.
The Italians paid for that when Panucci pushed Raul in the box in the 72nd
minute and Figo slotted in the penalty.
Real were the only serious candidates for the win by that stage. Raul flicked
the ball in from Figo's drilled cross at the near post and Roberto Carlos made
certain of victory with his trademark effort from outside the area.