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Helguera rewards impressive Madrid

Tuesday, 22 February 2005

By Trevor Haylett at the Santiago Bernabéu

[1] Real Madrid CF took control of their UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie against Juventus FC thanks to a first-half header from Iván Helguera.

Helguera winner

[2] Madrid gained the initiative on 31 minutes when the defender rose highest to head in a cross from David Beckham on the left. Madrid had chances to add to their advantage after the break, in coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo's first Champions League match in charge, but ultimately strong defending ensured Helguera's goal was enough.

Ronaldo back

[3] As expected Luxemburgo brought back Ronaldo who had been rested at the weekend as Madrid lost in the league for the first time under his command, with Michael Owen on the bench. There was just a single change from the side that had finished the group stage with that vital 3-0 away win against AS Roma - when Mariano García Remón was in charge - recent signing Thomas Gravesen taking over from Guti.

Nedved fit

[4] Juve's qualification was much more straightforward, the Italian side winning Group C by a remarkable six-point margin. Pavel Nedved's place had been in doubt because of a knee injury but he recovered in time. Striker David Trezeguet, however, stayed at home because of a bout of flu.

High quality

[5] The early exchanges bore out the high-quality flavour of the occasion as two of Europe's greatest clubs warmed to the challenge. Nedved was soon inflicting pain on an opponent himself, an accidental early challenge on Míchel Salgado causing the defender to grimace. In rapid succession Emerson aimed a shot wide, then Luís Figo drove one in low but Lilian Thuram blocked.

Ronaldo chance

[6] Considering the miserly nature of the Juventus defence - just one goal conceded in the group stage - the home team were able to capitalise on a generous amount of room in the opponent's half. Particularly Roberto Carlos who produced an immaculate cross to the unmarked Ronaldo. As the ball flew at him at an awkward height, the Brazilian did well to come as close as he did, a sidefoot volley flashing just over the top.

Raúl unlucky

[7] The injured Salgado made way in the ninth minute with Raúl Bravo taking over. There was an exuberance to Madrid's attacking play and they seemed as if they could make light of the disruption. In the best move of the night so far Raúl González met another Roberto Carlos cross but saw his effort clip the bar.

Helguera scores

[8] Juventus were no bystanders and Emerson was frustrated when Iker Casillas got a fingertip to his shot. A free-kick down the left offered Madrid the chance to go in front as Beckham swung it in and Helguera glanced the ball past Gianluigi Buffon on 31 minutes.

Raúl shoots over

[9] With Nedved forced off before the break following a clash of heads with Raúl Bravo the opportunity was there for Madrid to take a firmer hold on affairs. Figo was just off target at the start of the second half before Raúl wasted another great chance. Zinedine Zidane's wonderful control enabled him to get his shot away and when Buffon made the stop, Raúl pounced but shot off target.

Casillas holds on

[10] The Spanish side's need for a second goal was emphasised in the 62nd minute when Ruben Olivera, Nedved's replacement, burst through a retreating defence and forced Casillas into a splendid parry. Next up to threaten the lead was Emerson with a strong header. The goalkeeper held on - and so did Madrid to take an advantage with them to Italy in a fortnight.

Iván Helguera celebrates scoring Madrid's winner