Madrid — Cristiano Ronaldo hopes Real Madrid learned its
lesson after almost losing at home to Sporting Lisbon in its Champions League
Madrid's late comeback on Wednesday night gave the defending
champions a winning start in the group stage, but the team's disappointing
performance at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium raised some concerns.
Ronaldo grabbed an 89th-minute equalizer and substitute
Alvaro Morata netted the winner four minutes into injury time to give Madrid
the 2-1 win over the Portuguese side where Ronaldo started his career.
"This game serves as a warning that we can't be
starting games so poorly," Ronaldo said. "Because teams will sweep
the floor with us and we don't want that. We want to finish top of the group
The Spanish powerhouse struggled from the start, failing to
create significant scoring opportunities and unable to keep Sporting from
threatening on counter-attacks. Madrid entered the game heavily favored to win
but it was Sporting which was mostly in control at the Bernabeu.
"We were a bit flat at the start, but such is football
and such is Real Madrid and the comebacks are part of this mythical
stadium," said Ronaldo, who made his 350th appearance with Madrid.
Also read: Ronaldo cannot wait for Sporting match
The Portugal forward didn't celebrate his goal except for
putting his hands in the air.
"It was against the team where I learned my trade, the
club has a place in my heart," Ronaldo said of Sporting. "I have a
lot of respect for them, that's why I couldn't celebrate it."
Madrid is trying to become the first team to win
back-to-back titles since the new Champions League format went into effect in
the 1992-93 season. After one game, it is tied with Borussia Dortmund atop
Group F with three points, but trails on goal difference because Dortmund
routed Legia Warsaw 6-0.
"We'll analyze the aspects that I didn't like,"
Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "What I do know is that we can perform
better than we did. We came up against a team that played their game and made
it difficult for us. This is the Champions League and nothing is easy in
football. There are no easy games."
The comeback came after Zidane made some key changes, adding
substitutes Lucas Vazquez, Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez. The team improved
significantly, with the winner being scored by Morata after a cross by
Rodriguez. It was the first time this season Madrid played with the attacking
trio of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in the starting lineup.
Zidane said the hard-fought victory should boost the team's
confidence going forward.
"When you win a game in this manner it means a lot to
the squad," the former Madrid great said. "That's what I take away
with me and I go home with a smile on my face and feeling very relaxed. We
can't win all of our games 5-0. We had to dig in, but we got the three
Madrid's next Champions League game is at Dortmund on Sept.
27. It plays at Espanyol on Sunday in the Spanish league, a competition it
leads with three wins from three rounds.For
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