Real Madrid proved
there is still life at the Bernabeu as captain Raul scored twice to lead a
heroic fightback and earn the home side a 4-2 victory over AS Roma in Champions
League Group B on Tuesday.
Real, in crisis after three defeats in four games and the shock departure of
coach Jose Antonio Camacho, were in even deeper trouble when Daniele De Rossi
put the Italians ahead in the third minute and Antonio Cassano doubled the lead
in the 22nd.
Roma went into the game in equally bad shape, however, and the Italians, playing
under Ezio Sella following coach Rudi Voeller's weekend resignation, never
looked like having the nerve to hold on to their lead.
Raul chipped in from the edge of the box to get the home side back into the game
six minutes before the break, Luis Figo scored from the penalty spot and then
set up Raul for his second and Roberto Carlos blasted in the fourth 10 minutes
Raul's double took his goal tally in the Champions League to 47, two short of
Alfredo di Stefano's all-time record in the European Cup.
Victory for Real, playing their first European game under Mariano Garcia Remon,
gave them their first points in Group B, after a 3-0 defeat away to Bayer
Leverkusen in their opening match.
Defeat leaves Roma facing a desperate fight to make it through to the knock-out
phase, after they were consigned to a 3-0 defeat when their opening match at
home to Dynamo Kiev had to be stopped when the referee was hit by a missile from
Kiev top the group with a maximum six points after beating Leverkusen 4-2 on
The Roma players only had themselves to blame this time after squandering the
two-goal lead handed to them by a Real side who were looking a nervous wreck.
The first came in the third minute, when Real failed to clear a corner and let
in De Rossi to take a lofted through ball from Traianos Dellas and clip it past
Real, their pride stung, started to attack with a bit of purpose but with
Zinedine Zidane playing at half pace on his return from a shoulder injury, they
lacked the finesse to unlock Roma's defence.
Roma were going forward only half heartedly themselves but Francesco Totti's
astute pass wrong-footed the home defence in the 22nd minute, Simone Perrotta
touched the ball back and Cassano shot in off the post.
Crucially, Real managed to claim a goal back before the break, when Raul swept
the ball over Ivan Pelizzoli from the edge of the box.
Roma should have restored the two-goal lead when Cassano jinked inside the box
and crossed for Christian Panucci to head wide at the far post.
The Italians paid for that when Panucci pushed Raul in the box in the 72nd
minute and Figo slotted in the penalty.
Real were the only serious candidates for the win by that stage. Raul flicked
the ball in from Figo's drilled cross at the near post and Roberto Carlos made
certain of victory with his trademark effort from outside the area.
Remon draws optimism from comeback
Real Madrid coach Mariano Garcia Remon believes his side can look forward to the
rest of the season with genuine optimism after finding a combination of good
football and unflagging spirit to come from two goals down to beat AS Roma 4-2.
'This victory will really lift our spirits,' Garcia Remon told a news conference
after Tuesday's game.
'To beat an Italian team when you are 2-0 down and after they got eight men
behind the ball is a very big achievement.
'We didn't just win because we showed great heart, but because we played great
football and that is the most important thing.'
'I never doubted the attitude of the players,' said the Real coach. 'I knew they
would show character, but what I was most pleased about was they we played good
'What's more this is the perfect way to win back the support of the fans. They
got behind us when we went 2-0 down and without them we couldn't have fought
back to win the game.
England midfielder David Beckham meanwhile told Sky Sports News: 'It was an
important match for us. We showed the unity which people want to see. They want
to see the players together and see us fighting and I think they got that
'It's been a difficult couple of weeks for us leading up to this game. It showed
the togetherness of the team.
'For the first 20 minutes we were maybe nervous but for 70 minutes after that we
pushed. At 2-0 down it was make-or-break and we had to win this game. We were
playing our football but we needed to relax a bit more.
'The majority of the team are used to managers coming in and out. It's new for
me. I'm not used to it but I have got to get used to it. Once you get out on the
pitch it doesn't matter who the manager is.'
Roma coach Ezio Sella, who took charge of the club on a caretaker basis after
Rudi Voeller threw in the towel at the weekend, said that despite the defeat he
could still take some positives from the game.
'It was a decent performance in some ways. If we had managed to go into the
break 2-0 up then I think it would have been a different story.
'The penalty at the start of the second half upset our plans and gave them the
confidence to take control. With the great players they have it was very
difficult to stop them after that.'
Roma now face an uphill task in making it through to the knockout stages after
Dynamo Kiev were awarded a 3-0 victory in their opening game when the match was
abandoned after the referee was hit by an object thrown from the crowd in Rome.
They have to play their next two home games behind closed doors.
Real Madrid 4 x 2 Roma
Daniele De Rossi
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu
Referee: Valentin Ivanov
Yellow Cards: Albert Celades (44), Ivan Helguera (48), Walter Samuel (85) - Real
Madrid; Christian Panucci (52) - Roma
Goals: Gonzalez Raul (38), Luis Figo (pen 53), Gonzalez Raul (71), Roberto
Carlos (79) - Real Madrid; Daniele De Rossi (3), Antonio Cassano (21) - Roma