By 90Min
September 20, 2018

Julen Lopetegui has heaped praise on Mariano Diaz after the £30m summer signing scored a stunning goal on his second debut for Real Madrid, as he watched his side dominate Roma in their Champions League opener. 

The former Spanish national team boss watched his side pick last season's semi-finalists apart with ease, as Los Blancos took a 2-0 lead thanks to excellent strikes from Isco and Gareth Bale

Mariano, re-signed from Lyon having left the Santiago Bernabeu last summer, replaced the Welshman with 17 minutes to go and got on the scoresheet himself with a stunning strike. 

In his post-match comments, Lopetegui told Movistar (via Football Italia) : "His (Mariano's) time had come and he made the most of it. 

"I'll take the team's triumph against a rival like Roma, who last year eliminated Barcelona and went far [the semi-finals].

"We knew they were going to make things difficult for us, but the team was very good, we made a great match, both defensively and offensively.

“The team came out with the right attitude, creating chances. I wasn’t nervous on the touchline, just lively. We know that if we don’t take our chances sooner or later, our opponents can take theirs."

World Cup Golden Ball winner Luka Modric was in fine form yet again, setting up Bale for the second goal. Isco called for the Croatian to be given the Ballon d'Or in his own post-match interview, and Lopetegui echoed these praises. 

He added: "Luka had a very good game. He didn’t score but ran all over the field.

Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

"You know that if you do not take advantage of the opportunities sooner or later the opponent can have them. But the team has played a great game and has deserved the three points."

Real Madrid have won the last three Champions League titles up for grabs, becoming the first side in history to win the competition three times on the bounce. 

There seems to be no European hangover in the wake of Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Juventus. They couldn't possibly make it four in a row, could they? 

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