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05 Jun 2023, Edition - 2883, Monday

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Cristiano Ronaldo reaches 107 Champions League goals in APOEL thrashing



CRISTIANO RONALDO was back among the goals as Real Madrid started their Champions League defence with a bang.


Ronaldo scored twice as Real ran out 3-0 winners over APOEL Nicosia.

The Portugal star is currently serving a domestic ban for pushing the referee after being sent off in the Spanish Supercopa clash with Barcelona last month.

But he scored twice on his return – taking his Champions League career goals tally to 107 – and Sergio Ramos added an overhead kick as the Cypriots were swatted aside at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid were without rising star Marco Asensio in somewhat bizarre circumstances.

The 21-year-old had an infected pimple caused by shaving his legs, which prevented him from pulling his sock up.

But Ronaldo and Gareth Bale were starting together for the first time this season and the pair were soon causing problems for an overworked APOEL defence.

Bale headed over Marcelo’s cross and, after Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas had comfortably tipped over Roberto Lago’s speculative effort, Madrid were ahead after 12 minutes.

Isco released Bale down the left and his searching cross to the far post was confidently tucked away by Ronaldo.

Ronaldo almost added another when he headed into the side-netting, but Real suffered a blow when Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic limped off after 25 minutes with what appeared to be a knee injury.

APOEL rode their luck as Bale and Ronaldo spurned further opportunities and substitute Toni Kroos saw his shot blocked.

The visitors reached the interval only one goal adrift and still harbouring hopes that they could get something from the game.

Ronaldo struck the underside of the crossbar from Dani Carvajal’s inviting cross within seconds of the restart.

He vehemently argued that the ball had crossed the line but electronic technology showed it had not done so.

But Ronaldo doubled Real’s lead five minutes later when Lago needlessly handled in the area and he stroked home the penalty with ease.

The third goal came after 61 minutes when Ramos both started and finished another impressive Real move.

Ramos found Marcelo and continued his run into the penalty area to finish spectacularly when Bale’s header fell into his path off Lago’s shoulder.

Isco came within inches of adding a fourth in the final quarter before Ronaldo was denied a hat-trick when he was rightly flagged for offside.

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