Real Madrid 3 Roma 0: Isco stunner sets up winning start for Champions League holder

Julen Lopetegui led Real Madrid to victory over Roma in his first Champions League match in charge, with Isco and Gareth Bale scoring.

Gareth Bale scored Real Madrid second goal against AS Roma, finishing an excellent through ball from Modric.   -  Getty Images

Isco's perfect free-kick paved the way for Real Madrid to start its latest Champions League defence with a 3-0 home win against Roma, with Gareth Bale and Mariano Diaz also on target. 

Madrid is aiming to win the tournament for the fourth year in a row and Julen Lopetegui's side cruised to a relatively comfortable Group G victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Isco took set-piece duties following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, and on the same night his former team-mate was sent off against Valencia, the Spain international whipped in a superb strike from 25 yards just before the break.

Bale, scorer of a brace in Madrid's defeat of Liverpool in last season's final, made sure of the points with a placed finish after racing through on goal from Luka Modric's pass, with substitute Mariano adding a third in stoppage time.

READ | Real Madrid 3 Roma 0: Isco stunner sets up winning start for Champions League holder

Bale had a great chance to open the scoring in the fourth minute, but he rifled wide after collecting an excellent lofted pass from Toni Kroos, then Robin Olsen brilliantly denied Isco.

Kroos and Bale wasted further chances but while Olsen showed off his acrobatics to tip over a Sergio Ramos header he was helpless as Madrid took the lead on the stroke of half-time.

Daniele De Rossi brought down Isco and the Spain star curled a brilliant free-kick into the top-left corner, Olsen seemingly deceived by the strike.

Keylor Navas was selected in goal rather than Thibaut Courtois and he parried away a drive from Cengiz Under, with Bale's deflected shot then bouncing back off the crossbar.

However the Wales star would not be denied again when Modric sent him clear, Bale arrowing a shot home with his trusty left boot.

Substitute Marco Asensio almost added a late third with a delightful no-look finish, but Mariano did wrap up the scoring in the first minute of added time with a fantastic turn and finish into the top-right corner on his first appearance since returning from Lyon.

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What does it mean: No Ronaldo, no problem

For much of the first half Madrid missed its talisman as it failed to convert chances, but Isco and Bale stepped up to deliver three points for Lopetegui in his first Champions League match in charge. That Ronaldo was dismissed as Juventus won away to Valencia will not have gone unnoticed in Madrid. Roma will still expect to qualify, though, as Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow are ordinary opposition.

Pat on the back: Isco the inspiration

It is fair to say Isco would certainly have not been given the chance to take the free-kick he scored had Ronaldo been on the pitch. But the Spain star justified stepping up with an unstoppable strike that was almost a carbon copy of an effort by Lionel Messi in Barcelona's defeat of PSV on Tuesday.

Boot up the backside: No platform from Dzeko

Starting up front alone was a tough assignment for Edin Dzeko and he did not get a lot of support from the other attackers in the Roma team. But the striker, who had scored in each of his last five appearances in the Champions League, did not hold the ball up for his side, which was surely the minimum expected of him by coach Eusebio Di Francesco.

What's next?

Madrid is at home to Espanyol in LaLiga on Saturday, while Roma is at Bologna on the following day in Serie A. The Italians will hope for a better result when it hosts Plzen when the Champions League returns, with Madrid heading to Moscow to play CSKA.

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