Ronaldo returns but Real Madrid disappoints again

08:52, November 26, 2009      

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Three points and the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to action were the Orly positives that Real Madrid's supporters could draw from their side's performance in the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.


Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) controls the ball during the Champions League soccer match against FC Zurich, Nov. 25, 2009. Real Madrid won the match 1-0. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)

Gonzalo Higuain's goal halfway through the first half was all that separated the sides and although Real Madrid needs a disaster in Marseilles to fail to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.

The win means that Real has to lose 3-0 away to Olympique Marseilles to be knocked out of the Champions League.


Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain celebrates his goal during the Champions League soccer match against FC Zurich, Nov. 25, 2009. Real Madrid won the match 1-0. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)

Real Madrid went into the game knowing that they had beaten Zurich 5-2 in Switzerland in the opening group game and most of the fans must have been expecting a comfortable win.

However, there was little doubt that the supporters in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium had gone to see Ronaldo's return after 55 days sidelined with an ankle injury.


Real Madrid celebrate a goal during the Champions League soccer match against FC Zurich, Nov. 25, 2009. Real Madrid won the match 1-0. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)

Ronaldo started the game among the substitutes, but there was a start for Raul, who partnered Higuain in attack, with Karim Benzema also dropping to the bench.

The first 45 minutes made it clear that Real Madrid was the better team. However, Manuel Pellegrini's side struggled to make that superiority count against a Zurich team that surrendered possession and waited for its rival to attack.

Real's football still lacked fluidity to the obvious discontent of the fans in the stands.

That changed after 22 minutes when Higuain opened the scoring, firing home from inside of the penalty area after collecting a pass from Kaka.


Real Madrid's Marcelo (R) vies for the ball during the Champions League soccer match against FC Zurich, Nov. 25, 2009. Real Madrid won the match 1-0. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)

Marcelo hit the woodwork before the break with a volley after Madrid had taken a corner, but it was still clear that the game was crying out for a bit of Ronaldo magic.

As the second half began it was clear that most attention was on the Madrid dugout, rather than the action on the pitch, which became increasingly untidy as Pellegrini' s side got increasingly untidy.

Shots on goal were few and far between, but Ronaldo's entry into the game with 20 minutes remaining brought the crowd to life, if not the game.

He looked keen to join the action, but on a couple of occasions seemed to lack the confidence to risk his ankle.


Real Madrid's Kaka (R) loses control of the ball during the Champions League soccer match against FC Zurich, Nov. 25, 2009. Real Madrid won the match 1-0. (Xinhua/Chen Haitong)

Rafael Van der Vaart should have scored a second with a minute remaining, while Ronaldo himself fired wide in the 91st minute.

Two minutes later Zurich won its first corner of the night. It came to nothing, but was enough to ensure that once again the Real Madrid players were booed off the pitch.


Source: Xinhua
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