Ronaldo-inspired Madrid stun PSG, Liverpool thrash Porto

Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice as Real Madrid stunned Paris Saint-Germain with a late flourish to earn a 3-1 victory in the Champions League last 16 first leg. Adrien Rabiot sent PSG ahead when he scored after Kylian Mbappe’s cross was deflected into his path, but Ronaldo slammed home a penalty and then reacted first to nudge home late on, before Marcelo stabbed in a third. Meanwhile, Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick as Liverpool won 5-0 at Porto to put one foot into the quarterfinals. Mohamed Salah, with some superb ball juggling, and Roberto Firmino grabbed the other goals for Jurgen Klopp’s dominant side.
At the Santiago Bernabeu, Neymar made his return to Spanish soil after his world record 222 million move from Barcelona to PSG last summer, but although the Brazilian lit up the game with his dribbling, ultimately his old nemesis Ronaldo was the man who decided it.
“This is a very important victory, these Champions League games are nights you always want to remember and we showed exactly how you need to play,” Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said.
“We showed lots of personality and proved that despite all the speculation about us you can never presume Madrid are dead.”
Madrid, fourth in La Liga and in crisis, had the usual suspect to thank for the victory, with Ronaldo handed the man-of-the-match award.
The 33-year-old Madrid striker saw Alphonse Areola deflect a powerful early effort away with his face early on, before hammering another effort into the stands.
Rabiot broke the deadlock after Nacho, worried about Neymar, deflected the ball into his path in the 33rd minute, but Ronaldo levelled from the spot on the stroke of half-time.
Giovani Lo Celso foolishly tugged Toni Kroos down in the area and Ronaldo drilled the resulting penalty past the helpless Areola.
The second half saw the two sides battle to and fro, hard to separate, until substitute Marco Asensio forced Areola to tip his low cross into the path of Ronaldo, who improvised a finish with his thigh in the 83rd minute.
With PSG rocking, Marcelo took full advantage, finishing from another Asensio cross three minutes later to give Madrid a healthy lead to take to Paris on March 6. “I think our team played a great game but we got a bad result. We played with a lot of personality, said PSG coach Unai Emery.
“I think we deserved a better result. Everything is decided by small details and I don’t think the referee helped us.
“We have to be optimistic for the second leg and keep playing how we have been. We have to recover and qualify for the next round.”
In Portugal, Liverpool earned an even bigger win to all but guarantee their participation in the next phase.
Mane tucked home the opener thanks to a mistake from goalkeeper Jose Sa, who failed to hold his low effort which squirmed into the net.
Salah then juggled the ball across the face of goal after it bounced up to him before knocking home for his 30th goal of the season.
Senegal winger Mane netted from close range after Firmino’s strike was saved and then the Brazilian forward scored himself from James Milner’s ball.
Mane hammered home with five minutes to go to complete his hat-trick and leave Porto in need of a miracle. “Honestly, it was not an easy game even if we scored five,” Mane told BT Sport.
“We played great football from the beginning to the end. I’ve always enjoyed playing with these great players. Without the team though we(forwards) are nothing. They give us the ball.”
Milner added: “Mane does his job and does a great job for the team. People see his flair and the goals that he scores but he does a great job working for the team.” — dpa