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Raúl revives ailing Madrid

Tuesday, 28 September 2004

By Andy Hall at the Santiago Bernabéu

[1] Real Madrid CF overcame a two-goal deficit to seal an astonishing UEFA Champions League Group B win, against an AS Roma side that had initially stunned the home side with two early goals. Madrid captain Raúl González inspired the comeback with two goals, while Luís Figo and Roberto Carlos scored the others.

Reputations at stake

[2] A failure to set their domestic campaigns alight has heralded a change of coaches at both clubs since Matchday 1 defeats, and while Zinedine Zidane returned to Mariano García Remón's home side with his injured shoulder heavily strapped, Roma caretaker, Ezio Sella, was able to field ex-Madrid defender Christian Panucci, who had been doubtful with muscular problems.

Roma go ahead

[3] Roma took just two minutes to open the scoring, following an earlier opportunity where Iván Helguera had been forced to head the ball into touch after Mancini had beaten Iker Casillas. From the resulting corner, the visitors broke the offside trap with a neatly-threaded ball from Traianos Dellas to Daniele de Rossi, who gleefully flicked the ball into the net. Madrid's response was to launch a quick-fire attack, which culminated in Raúl curling a shot just past the post. Moments later Helguera saw his low drive held by Ivan Pelizzoli.

Jittery defending

[4] Nerves were evident in Madrid's defence every time Roma came forward. They were made to pay for their jittery defending after 21 minutes when Ezio Sella's team doubled their lead. Francesco Totti played in Simone Perrotta, whose touch found Antonio Cassano. The young striker beat Casillas with a shot that went just inside the post, and Madrid's goalkeeper was in action again soon after, pushing over a Totti free-kick.

Raúl hits back

[5] Madrid continued to dominate possession but their chances were limited to a series of off-target Roberto Carlos shots from distance. Their hopes were lifted, though, when Raúl pulled a goal back after 40 minutes. He reacted sharply to Zidanes pass on the edge of the area, and his shot was deflected off the boot of Dellas before looping over Pelizzoli and into the net to make it 2-1.

Penalty decision

[6] A half-time pep talk from García Remón seemed to boost Madrid, who returned to the game in determined fashion. Figo charged his way into the Roma box just seconds after the restart but Pelizzoli easily gathered his low cross. The scores were levelled seven minutes after the restart following a controversial penalty decision. Raúl, sandwiched between Panucci and Dellas, was judged to have been pushed while leaping for a cross. Figo confidently struck the spot-kick low and hard to Pelizzolis right to restore parity.

Comeback on the cards

[7] Madrid scented the chance to take all three points from the game, and dominated possession in the second half. Their patience paid off after 71 minutes, when Raúl grabbed his second goal of the evening, poking in a low Figo drive from close range. Suddenly rejuvenated, Madrid sought a fourth goal. Ronaldo, who had been closely shackled by Leandro Cufré and Dellas, broke free but his low volley skidded across the face of goal.

Roberto Carlos seals win

[8] Roberto Carlos, who bore the brunt of much of the criticism from the teams fans, responded by smashing a blistering strike into the top corner with ten minutes left on the clock. The Brazilian made celebratory gestures towards the stands to acknowledge his effort. He almost doubled his tally in added time but his ambitious volley from David Beckhams sweeping pass flew just over the top. By then, Madrid had already sealed their first win of this European campaign.

Raúl González celebrates his part in Madrid's comeback