Real Madrid got back to winning ways on Tuesday night as they began the defence of their UEFA Champions League crown with a comfortable 5-1 victory over FC Basel at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A Marek Suchy own goal got the ball rolling for Carlo Ancelotti’s men, while Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez were all on target before half-time.
Derlis Gonzalez pulled one back for the visitors before the break, but Karim Benzema completed the scoring with 11 minutes remaining.
It was just what Real needed after they endured a torrid start to the season which saw them collapse at Real Sociedad before going down against Atletico in the Madrid derby on Saturday.
Despite being unfairly jeered off the pitch at the weekend, Iker Casillas started and gave a solid performance between the sticks – notably denying Gonzalez from point-blank range after Raphael Varane’s wayward header back to him.
The two changes for Real were both at full-back with Marcelo returning ahead of Fabio Coentrao on the left, while on the right Nacho Fernandez was chosen ahead of Dani Carvajal to replace Alvaro Arbeloa.
They were quick out of the blocks. Ronaldo had the first sight of goal after just six minutes, as he cut inside from the right before shooting inches over the bar.
The deadlock was broken just eight minutes later when Nacho played a one-two with Rodriguez down the right-hand side, before his cross deflected home off Suchy leaving Tomas Vaclik flat-footed.
Marco Streller almost provided the Swiss champions with the perfect response as he hit the side-netting at the other end, before Luka Modric and Pepe both drew good saves out of Vaclik within the space of a minute.
Real doubled the lead on the half-hour mark. Modric played a neat one-two with Ronaldo before splitting the defence with a clever pass on the outside of his foot, and Bale raced onto it lifting the ball over the onrushing keeper before making sure on the line.
The Tottenham Hotspur old boys combined again within 60 seconds, as Bale slid the ball across the area for Ronaldo to tap in and take his overall tally in the competition to 68 – just three behind Raul’s record.
It was four five minutes later that Rodriguez got himself on the scoresheet. The hosts countered with pace with Benzema and Ronaldo playing a one-two, before the Frenchman’s deflected effort was parried and the Colombian World Cup star was quick on the scene to gobble up the rebound.
At this point Ancelotti’s men were cruising but they were given a slight reality check when Gonzalez pulled one back for Basel. He got in behind after some neat play from the visitors and drilled the ball home brilliantly across Casillas.
The keeper then denied the striker midway through the second half as he got substitute Varane out of jail with a great one-on-one save, while Vaclik made a decent point-blank stop at the other end to deny Bale after the Welshman had been played in by Rodriguez’s cute through ball.
Benzema completed the scoring 11 minutes from time. Toni Kroos started the move by finding Ronaldo who exchanged clever passes with his strike partner before the Frenchman fired home off the underside of the bar.
Los Galacticos soared to the top of Group B with what was an emphatic victory in the end, while a late Steven Gerrard secured three points for Liverpool against Ludogorets in the other game.
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