Defending Champions League holders Real Madrid needed a late show from Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata to come back from a goal down to beat Sporting Lisbon in their Champions League debut on Wednesday night.
HOLLY CRAP RONALDO FREE KICK GOAL AT MINUTE 88′ ???? pic.twitter.com/SX7pA01euz
— Kloppatra. (@kloppatra) September 14, 2016
Bruno Cesar had given Sporting a surprise lead in the 47th minute of the game and the club, which saw Ronaldo born as a player, was on the verge of a famous victory when their favorite son curled a free kick in to level the scores.
Morata, who had come into the game as a 67th minute substitute then gave Madrid all three points with a powerful header from a James Rodriguez cross to get Madrid’s title defense off to a winning start.
Kiko Casilla remained in goal for Real Madrid, while Rafael Varene replaced Pepe in defense and Karim Benzema was back to form an attacking trio alongside Gareth Bale and Ronaldo.
The visitors almost got off to a flying start in the second minute as Bruno Cesar fired just wide and Casillas was soon into action with a save from Bas Dost.
Sporting were looking to sit back and play on the break and Real Madrid were moving the ball too slowly to create clear chances and it wasn’t until the half hour that Ronaldo made his first contribution with a swerving shot that was well tipped over by Rui Patricio.
Madrid looked flat and it wasn’t a huge surprise when Bruno put the visitors ahead after halftime with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Sporting then held on bravely with some solid defending, but Madrid had only one shot on goal before Ronaldo’s equalizer.
In a post-match interview, Ronaldo was apologetic towards Sporting Lisbon as he remembered the days he spent at his former club.
Ronaldo also spoke about the challenges he had to face during his initial days at Lisbon.
“It was very traumatic to leave my family,” Ronaldo admitted. “I had never even been on an aeroplane before.
“There were a lot of tears in my first few weeks in Lisbon. Madeira is so small, I couldn’t believe the traffic and noise of a capital city. About 10 of us lived in a room inside the Sporting Lisbon stadium.
“In the beginning, nobody could understand me because of my accent and I couldn’t understand them either. It was awful.”