|Real Madrid CF
overcame a two-goal deficit to seal an astonishing UEFA Champions League Group B
win against an AS Roma side that had initially stunned the home side with two
early goals. Madrid captain Raúl González inspired the comeback with two goals
while Luís Figo and Roberto Carlos scored the others.
Reputations at stake
A failure to set their domestic campaigns alight has heralded a change of
coaches at both clubs since Matchday 1 defeats, and while Zinedine Zidane
returned to Mariano García Remón's home side with his injured shoulder heavily
strapped, Roma caretaker Ezio Sella was able to field ex-Madrid defender
Christian Panucci, who had been doubtful with muscular problems.
Roma go ahead
Roma took just two minutes to open the scoring following an early scare as Iván
Helguera was forced to head the ball into touch after Mancini beat Iker Casillas.
From the resulting corner, the visitors broke the offside trap with a
neatly-threaded ball from Traianos Dellas to Daniele de Rossi, who gleefully
flicked the ball into the net. Madrid's response was to launch a quick-fire
attack, which culminated in Raúl curling a shot just past the post. Moments
later Helguera saw his low drive held by Ivan Pelizzoli.
Nerves were evident in Madrid's defence every time Roma came forward. They were
made to pay for their jittery defending after 21 minutes when Ezio Sella's team
doubled their lead. Francesco Totti played in Simone Perrotta, whose touch found
Antonio Cassano. The young striker beat Casillas with a shot that went just
inside the post. Casillas was called on again to push over a Totti free-kick
Raúl hits back
Madrid continued to dominate possession but their chances were limited to a
series of off-target Roberto Carlos shots from distance. Their hopes were lifted,
though, when Raúl pulled a goal back after 40 minutes. He reacted sharply to
Zidanes pass on the edge of the area, and his shot was deflected off the boot of
Dellas before looping over Pelizzoli and into the net to make it 2-1.
A half-time pep talk from Mariano García Remón seemed to boost Madrid, who
returned to the game in determined fashion. Luís Figo charged his way into the
Roma box just seconds after the restart but Pelizzoli easily gathered his low
cross. The scores were levelled seven minutes after the restart following a
controversial penalty decision. Raúl, sandwiched between Panucci and Dellas, was
judged to have been pushed while leaping for a cross. Figo confidently struck
the spot-kick low and hard to Pelizzolis right to restore parity.
Comeback on the cards
Madrid scented the chance to take all three points from the game and dominated
possession in the second half. Their patience paid off after 71 minutes, when
Raúl grabbed his second goal of the evening, poking in a low Figo drive from
close range. Suddenly rejuvenated, Madrid sought a fourth goal. Ronaldo, who had
been closely shackled by Leandro Cufre and Dellas, broke free but his low volley
skidded across the face of goal.
Roberto Carlos seals win
Roberto Carlos, who bore the brunt of much of the criticism from the teams fans,
responded by smashing a blistering strike into the top corner with ten minutes
left on the clock. The Brazilian made celebratory gestures towards the stands to
acknowledge his effort. He almost doubled his tally in added time but his
ambitious volley from David Beckhams sweeping pass flew just over the top. By
then, Madrid had already sealed their first points of this European campaign.