By 90Min
February 14, 2018

Real Madrid will travel to the Parc des Princes for the second-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with a vital two-goal buffer, thanks to a 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday evening.

Adrien Rabiot opened the scoring for Les Parisiens shortly before the half-hour mark, catalysing a sense of uncertainty which called a temporary cease to the deafening atmosphere. However, as Cristiano Ronaldo converted from the penalty spot moments before half-time to bring Los Blancos back into the tie, the Madridistas shone again. 

But as the second 45 drifted away, fear of heading to the French capital without an advantage seemed very real, only for two goals within three minutes late on from the ever-reliant big game talisman and Marcelo offering Zinedine Zidane's side a very defendable lead in three weeks time. 

After weeks of focus, considering their domestic form, the capacity Santiago Bernabeu Stadium were baying for an electric start, and favourite Ronaldo came close to providing it in the opening five minutes. 

Shortly after Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi turned down Toni Kroos' penalty claims - the correct decision on review - the five-time Ballon d"Or winner found his way in behind the visitors defence, but could only flash his half-volleyed effort just wide of the left-hand upright. 

However, minutes later Yuri Berchiche found himself in a similar situation after Neymar threaded his pass in the direction of Keylor Navas' goal, although the left-back's service into Edinson Cavani disappointed, affording defensive culprit Nacho Fernandez a sigh of relief as the ball trickled away to safety. 

As the first-half ticked by the tempo remained intense, however it was not until shortly before the half-hour mark where either side portrayed danger, with Marcelo almost providing the assist of his career. 

The Brazilian gained possession deep in his own half following his fellow countryman Neymar's hesitation inside the Los Blancos area, before switching play with an absurd long-range low pass via the outside of his right boot into the path of the marauding Ronaldo, who despite finding himself one-on-one with PSG goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, saw his effort denied after the advancing Frenchman blocked it with his face. 

The 24-year-old's crucial stop was then magnified insurmountably as less than five minutes later his side had the lead. 

Kylian Mbappe gained success down the right before fizzing in a low cross which was dummied by Cavani before being flicked on by Neymar into the path of the late arriving Rabiot, who, after escaping the lacklustre tracking run of Luka Modric, had the time and awareness to slot his attempt down the centre of the goal; evading Navas' pre-empted dive to his right. 

However, after finding themselves a goal behind, Zidane's side certainly showed the composure that has been missing for much of their season so far, and on the stroke of half-time the scores were level after Ronaldo blasted home from the penalty spot, recording his 100th Champions League goal for the Spanish capital side in the process.

Karim Benzema initiated the opportunity, as his first time strike from the edge of the area forced a stunning save from Areola. But Kroos' quick thinking from the resulting short corner left Giovani Lo Celso no option but to haul down the German, with referee Rocchi showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot this time, and allow Los Blancos to head into the break on even terms once again.

The second-half started in a very similar vein to the first, with the hosts' pressing proving fruitful, but not providing the ultimate result desired. 


However, despite their early dominance, as was the case in the opening 45, PSG's confidence and comfort in possession steadily increased as the minutes passed, although Unai Emery's outfit struggled to find the clinical edge that has served them so well in the opening two thirds of the campaign. And as is so often the case, Paris were eventually made to pay for their inability to capitalise.

Once again it was Ronaldo who found the back of the net, but on this occasion the Portugal international knew very little about it. 


Substitute Marco Asensio received play on the left-hand edge of Paris' area before drilling a low cross into the area, which, following a short period of pinball, deflected off the unaware 33-year-old, who looked as shocked as anyone in the Bernabeu as he peeled away in celebration. 

But one man who was not surprised to be mirroring the joy of his teammate was Marcelo, who just three minutes after congratulating Ronaldo was receiving the plaudits himself after arrowing a left-footed volley, with the help of a slight deflection, past the beaten Areola, sending the Madridistas behind the goal into scenes of delirium. 


Those scenes lasted until the final whistle, bringing an end to a Champions League classic and allowing Los Blancos to head to Paris in three weeks time very much in the ascendency. 

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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
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