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Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo’s double inspired Real Madrid to a 2-1 victory over 10-man Bayern Munich in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday as the Spaniards hit back from a goal down to steal an away win.

Arturo Vidal’s thumping header steered manager Carlo Ancelotti’s side into the lead before Ronaldo equalised early in the second half and added a late winner after Javi Martinez’s 60th-minute sending off.

Robert Lewandowski missed out with a shoulder injury, per the Independent, leaving Thomas Muller to deputise in an attacking role. Meanwhile, Bayern now need Mats Hummels back from injury if they’re to survive Martinez’s suspension after he was sent off on the hour mark in Bavaria.

On a night that saw Real’s hopes of a third Champions League crown in four seasons boosted, Ronaldo also collected a historic individual goal accolade thanks to his pair of strikes:


Der FCB came into Wednesday’s encounter as favourites to take a first-leg lead, but even that tag may not have prepared the Allianz Arena hosts for the freedom they enjoyed raining down on Real’s goal in the opening exchanges.

As a result of Muller’s move into attack, Vidal was active in a more attacking midfield position while Xabi Alonso tucked in alongside Thiago Alcantara in midfield.

It was fitting, then, that the South American general was the one who found the space necessary to penetrate a Real back line that had looked suspect at times.

Thiago’s corner found its way to the rising Vidal, who kept up his fine recent record in this competition of late, as illustrated by OptaPaolo:


Vidal came close to adding a second not long before the interval, too, when Arjen Robben squirmed his way down the right flank and to the goal line before his cross was headed just wide of the net by his Chilean team-mate.

He was thrust into the spotlight once more, too, but this time for the wrong reasons as Vidal failed to convert a penalty that was controversially handed to Bayern for a hand ball that appeared to occur outside the area, via BT Sport:


Even with that disappointment, however, Bayern could count themselves as the clear winners of the opening 45 minutes, even if the scoreline still read one goal to nil in their favour at the break.

The Times‘ James Gheerbrant was full of praise for two of the home side’s midfield marvels in particular, with Real Madrid smartly restricted in their efforts to develop any attacking momentum:


Los Merengues were swift in notching their equaliser after the break when Dani Carvajal’s darting run down the wing resulted in a well-timed cross to Ronaldo, who made up for previous misses with a smart volley past Manuel Neuer.

Bleacher Report’s Lars Pollmann mused that it was the jeers of the Allianz Arena that will have only encouraged the Portuguese further to do more damage:


And after leaking that goal, Bayern’s evening went from bad to worse thanks to Martinez’s sending off, with the Spain international showing little by way of common sense, picking up two yellow cards in three minutes.

His red card meant Xabi Alonso moved into defence, and broadcaster Deji Kofi Faremi highlighted a certain Portuguese goalscorer even had a substantial hand in seeing Martinez off the pitch:


Real might have gone ahead for the first time in the fixture were it not for the fact that five-time UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year Neuer was protecting Bayern’s net, and he did so with aplomb over the next 15 minutes or so.

That being said, the tension told when Marco Asensio, on as a substitute for Gareth Bale, clipped a delightful ball into Ronaldo’s path on the 77th minute, and the forward got to the ball first to clip in the winner:


The fixture turned rather one-sided from that point on, and it was unsurprisingly the Spaniards who eased their way to victory, with Der FCB left chasing shadows for much of the remaining time.

Real even thought they’d added a third in injury time before Sergio Ramos was called back for offside, but manager Zinedine Zidane will nonetheless be pleased taking a lead back to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real Madrid will be be back on the road when they travel to Sporting Gijon on Saturday seeking a return to winning ways on the domestic circuit, having drawn 1-1 at home to local rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend.

Elsewhere, Bayern have only a short respite before they return to domestic action with an away trip to face Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, hoping to improve an already domineering 10-point lead at the head of the Bundesliga.



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