PARIS, Sept 15: Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata struck in the closing minutes to seal a stunning Real Madrid comeback to beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1 to start their Champions League defence.
Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (C) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League match against Sporting Lisbon at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on Wednesday. Real Madrid won 2-1.
Trailing until the 89th minute against Sporting Lisbon, Real Madrid was reminded that becoming the first club to retain the trophy in the Champions League era won’t be an easy task.
The 11-time champions needed a late winner from substitute Alvaro Morata to prevail 2-1 in their opening game in the competition on a Wednesday night also marked by Premier League champion Leicester’s maiden Champions League win.
Playing against his former team, Cristiano Ronaldo was on the score sheet at Santiago Bernabeu stadium as he levelled with one minute left from a free kick before Morata’s winner in added time. But the Portugal star was unable to match Sergio Aguero, who netted a hat-trick with Manchester City.
After a one-year absence in the tournament, Dortmund celebrated its return by putting six goals past Legia Warsaw, while French clubs Monaco and Lyon made both winning starts.
In Group E, thrashed by Tottenham 4-1 at White Hart Lane last season in Europa League, Monaco took its revenge on Europe’s biggest club stage with a 2-1 win at Wembley.
The match was moved to England’s national stadium because of construction work at Spurs’ home ground and drew 85,011 fans, a club-record home attendance and a record for an English club.
The crowd did not impress the French league leaders as Monaco playmaker Bernardo Silva, who impressed throughout, opened the scoring after only 15 minutes before Thomas Lemar doubled the lead near the half-hour mark.
Spurs reduced the deficit through Toby Alderweireld’s header in the 45th minute but couldn’t make the most of lots of possession in the second half.
Bayer Leverkusen failed to hold onto a 2-0 lead in the group’s other game, letting CSKA Moscow come from behind and rescue a point in a 2-2 draw. All four goals were scored in the first half.
Leverkusen missed plenty of opportunities after racing to a two-goal lead in the space of 15 minutes with goals from Admir Mehmedi and Hakan Calhanoglu. The Russian champion responded with two goals in three minutes courtesy of Alan Dzagoev and Roman Eremenko.
At the Santiago Bernabeu, Sporting had the match largely under control and was rewarded when Brazilian midfielder Bruno Cesar scored with a shot from inside the area in the 48th minute. Ronaldo equalised from an 89th minute free kick.
Borussia Dortmund, the 1997 champion, enjoyed a stroll in the park at Polish champion Legia Warsaw, scoring with six different players in a 6-0 rout.
In Group G, Riyad Mahrez scored twice as Leicester opened its maiden Champions League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Belgian champion Club Brugge.
Sixteen years after its last European game, the English Premier League champion was unfazed by the occasion and got off to a strong start, with Marc Albrighton scoring after just five minutes.
Mahrez then curled a free kick home and scored his second goal from the penalty spot.
The victory gave Leicester the lead in its group after FC Porto and Copenhagen drew 1-1.
In Group H, playing with a depleted side, Lyon relied on its homegrown players and the class of teenager Maxwel Cornet to open its Champions League campaign in style with a 3-0 defeat of Dinamo Zagreb.
Lyon tops the group after Juventus was held to a disappointing 0-0 draw by Europa League winner Sevilla in their opening match.
Sergio Aguero kept up his explosive start to the season by scoring a hat trick for Manchester City in a 4-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in their rescheduled Champions League Group C match.
A 24-hour delay, after the original fixture was postponed because of torrential rain, didn’t put City off its stride as coach Pep Guardiola earned his seventh straight victory to open his tenure at the English club.
Aguero has now scored nine goals in five games this season after tapping in the opening goal in the ninth minute, converting a penalty in the 28th and completing his hat-trick by rounding the goalkeeper in a one-on-one chance in the 77th.
Aguero was replaced by Kelechi Iheanacho, who wrapped up the scoring in stoppage time with a powerful close-range strike. – Agencies