Ronaldo ties goal record, exits with knee injury

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Ronaldo ties goal record, exits with knee injury

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Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (left) celebrates with teammates Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos (top) after scoring against Borussia Dortmund during their Champions League quarterfinal first-leg match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid. [REUTERS/NEWS1]

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a record-equaling goal before leaving the match due to injury as Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund, 3-0, on Wednesday to take a big step toward the Champions League semifinals.

Ronaldo netted his 14th goal of the season in Europe’s top competition to give Madrid a clear advantage ahead of next week’s quarterfinal return leg in Germany. But it came at a price, as the Portuguese forward, who came into the first-leg nursing a sore left knee, came off in the 80th minute.

Gareth Bale scored early and Isco added another before the half hour mark at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

“Ronaldo has a problem with his knee, but at this moment I’m not worried about it,’’ said Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The Spaniards opened against Dortmund as the Germans had against them in the semifinals last season when they thrashed Madrid 4-1 en route to reaching the final with a 4-3 victory on aggregate.

In Wednesday’s other quarterfinal first leg, Paris Saint-Germain beat Chelsea, 3-1, in the French capital.

Madrid certainly didn’t need inspiration after last season’s loss to Dortmund, which was without suspended striker Robert Lewandowski and five other injured regulars as it fielded just four of the players from last season’s 4-1 win.

“The goals we gave up tonight were not because of this,’’ said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp. “It was too easy (for them), and that’s not what we wanted. We made some mistakes and we were punished.’’

The energetic start saw Bale nearly miss Dani Carvajal’s short pass inside the area before stretching to toe poke his fifth goal of the competition under goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller after just three minutes.

Weidenfeller was sharp despite Madrid’s early onslaught as he punched free kicks from Ronaldo and Bale over the bar. He also stayed in the game despite wincing in pain after Marco Reus made a clearance that also connected with the keeper’s hands.

With forward Angel Di Maria out with a gastrointestinal virus, Isco showed good poise to gather a loose ball in front of the area and slide home a low shot to make it 2-0 in the 27th minute.

The Spain midfielder’s goal was just the boost Madrid needed as Dortmund began to find its rhythm, with Kevin Grosskreutz forcing Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas into a low stop in the 33rd.

Ronaldo, playing in his 100th Champions League game, was clearly eager to match the record of 14 goals in one Champions League campaign held by Lionel Messi.

Luka Modric made it happen as the Croat pounced on a poor Dortmund pass deep in its own area in the 57th minute and picked out Ronaldo, who dribbled around Weidenfeller for his 45th goal of the season. Jose Altafini also scored 14 goals in the 1962-3 European Cup campaign for AC Milan.

“We did what we prepared for well,’’ said Ancelotti. “We used a lot of energy in the first half and were tired. So we dropped the team back a little in the second half - while looking to score on the counter.’’

While Ronaldo and Karim Benzema continued to threaten Dortmund’s goal, Madrid was fortunate not to concede under pressure as Pepe blocked Reus’s shot from inside the area after Casillas failed to control a cross. Madrid’s defense blocked several Dortmund shots during the final stages.

“You have to do the right tactical things against the best teams in the world. We can do better than we did tonight,” said Klopp, who rued the late misses. “[Losing] 3-0 you are not cool, you are not confident, you are under pressure. We had chances.”

Madrid, which is vying for a record 10th European Cup, is on the cusp of a fourth-straight appearance in the semifinals, a welcome lift after a difficult run in the Spanish league.

In Tuesday’s matches, defending champion Bayern Munich drew 1-1 at Manchester United, and Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Barcelona.

AP


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