England striker Michael Owen finally found
the net in a Real Madrid shirt as he got the only goal in Real's 1-0 win
over Dynamo Kiev in their Champions League group B match.
It was hardly a classic strike, and reflected the often scrappy nature
of the encounter, but will have taken a weight off his shoulders after
the acres of criticism heaped on him by the Spanish media.
The goal was also a reward for Real coach Mariano Garcia Remon giving
Owen his first start of the new reign, in his sixth match in charge,
after taking over at the helm last month.
"Michael did everything I asked of him. I wanted mobility at the front.
He was very active, good at getting the ball out wide to the flanks and
he was fighting for everything," said Garcia Remon.
"The best players are never happy being on the bench but Michael's had a
great attitude and he responded when I wanted him to."
However, Owen still continued his record of having yet to play a full
game for Madrid when he was brought off for Albert Celades after 67
The solitary goal of a game in which the best moments came in the first
half was after 35 minutes when Santiago Solari, who had only been on the
field a few minutes after coming on for the injured Luis Figo, threaded
his way through several retreating Kiev players before passing out to
the left for Ronaldo.
The Brazilian then adopted the unusual role of service provider,
centring for Owen to bundle the ball into net.
Real also had several chances to open the scoring before Owen got Real
off their marks.
Ronaldo hit the post after 11 minutes and Guti should have done better
when Owen put him clear in front of goal just a few minutes later.
"We went out there with an attacking formation and we should have got
goals in the first 20-25 minutes but with Figo coming off we were a bit
knocked out of shape," commented Garcia Remon.
"But Solari showed what qualities he's got to create that goal."
Real Madrid captain Raul celebrated his 500th game for the club, just
the eighth Real player to reach such a milestone, but it will not go
down as one of his most memorable.
Lofting the ball over the crossbar while in front of the goal after 73
minutes, when he has found the net in similar cirumstances on many other
occasions, was typical of his night.
The Ukrainians, who went into the match with six points from two games,
always looked dangerous during the first half when they counter-attacked.
Dymano's Uzbek striker Maksim Shatskikh, one of the cornerstones of his
country's outstanding World Cup campaign in the Asian section, shot just
wide after 28 minutes when the Madrid defence was caught square.
Shatskikh also forced Iker Casillas to pull off a full stretch save late
in the game.
However, Dynamo never fired on all cylinders like they had done in their
previous two Champions League outings, and should have taken more
advantage of Real's haphazard defence.
"I thought we should have had a penalty in the first half but at least
the referee didn't feel under pressure to give Real one in the second
half where there was a situation where they might have got one," said
Dynamo coach Josef Szabo.
"Real were the better side tonight but things might be different though
when Real come back to Kiev in two weeks' time."