The Spanish champions, Real Madrid, were on the ropes twice. Once it was Marcelo, enjoying a nice bounce off a Manchester City defender. Than it was Karim Benzema with a splendid goal. And then it was Cristiano Ronaldo, lucky to have Vincent Kompany lower his head, with a winner that means so much more than just a regular 3-2 win.
Not just a 90th minute goal, to open their Champions League season, despite everything, over Manchester City, that played for 65 minutes like all they wanted was a 0-0 draw. Then Roberto Mancini threw in his Super Sub, Edin Dzeko, and everything changed.
Jose Mourinho went with something of a 4-3-3, giving Xabi Alonso, Michael Essien and Sami Khedira the reign in the middle, with Ronaldo alongside with Di Maria and Higuain. It worked pretty well with creating chances (32 attempts at goal) and controlling the pitch (55-45), bringing the best out of Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany.
City? Aside from some counter attacks built up by Yaya Toure and ruined by Carlos Tevez, all alone up there with four Real Madrid defenders, as David Silva was the only other attacking option on a defensive Manchester City lineup, having a very bad and uneffective day, eventually leaving the pitch to give Dzeko the chance to show his goalscoring skills.
Suddenly, it was like Manchester City changed their colors and decided they want a win. Italian style, just like their manager, deciding to press at the moment they felt their rivals growing a bit tiresome. Yaya Toure had another perfect counter attack, finding a striding Edin Dzeko on his left, who didn’t bring out the best of shots with his weaker foot, but Iker Casillas gambled on the wrong corner.
That was the start of the best 22 minutes you can expect from a quality football match. Marcelon, one of Real’s best players on the day, getting closer with each long range shot he took, eventually his shot bouncing off a Manchester City defender to give Real Madrid the eqaulizer.
Manchester City were in win mode – Aleksandr Kolarov was the next one to stun the Santiago Bernabeu with only five minutes left to play. Another team would have given up, but this was a must win match for Real Madrid. Karim Benzema came off the bench and brought a perfect spin on Nastasic, stunning Joe Hart with his speed and his accuracy with a shot to the corner.
The Real Madrid pressure kept on coming, and Cristiano Ronaldo had the final word. A typical shot from the corner, but Vincent Kompany decided to “help” his keeper by lowering his head. Hart was surprised again, and Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t sad anymore. Surprise, surprise. When you win off of his 90th minute goal, there’s nothing to be sad about.