Ronaldo and Jese score as Real beats Roma

Cristiano Ronaldo and substitute Jese Rodriguez scored as Real Madrid beat Roma 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with his Real Madrid teammates after opening the scoring against Roma.   -  AP

Zinedine Zidane marked his Champions League debut in charge of Real Madrid with a 2-0 win at Roma, as second-half goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese Rodriguez settled the first leg of the last-16 tie. Ronaldo broke the deadlock after 57 minutes when his long-range shot clipped Roma's Alessandro Florenzi before finding the back of the net.

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Madrid weathered a late rally from the host before putting themselves firmly on course to reach the last eight of the competition for a sixth-successive season with a second goal in the closing stages. Substitute Jese was allowed enough time in the 86th minute to angle a shot into the bottom left corner of Wojciech Szczesny's goal, leaving Roma requiring a second-leg miracle to progress.





With a trip to the Spanish capital to come, and having conceded 16 goals in the group stage, Roma was understandably unwilling to stand and trade shots with one of the heavyweights of European football. Its policy of sitting deep and playing on the counter almost worked before the break, but Stephan El Shaarawy failed to out-run Madrid defender Raphael Varane when played through on goal.

Despite dominating possession and territory, Madrid failed to register a single shot on target in the opening half. Its best attempt came from an unlikely source, as Marcelo produced a volley from the left side of the area that dipped over the diving Szczesny but just landed beyond the far post.

Ronaldo - who walked out of Tuesday's pre-match media conference after being pressed about his scoring record away from home - did have a long-range free-kick that fizzed wide. The Portuguese was then fortunate to escape a booking for a deliberate, and rather obvious, handball by the touchline in what was a frustrating 45 minutes for the visitors.

It did not, however, take Ronaldo long to make a positive impact after the interval. Marcelo's pass down the left wing put Ronaldo one-on-one with Florenzi. He cut back inside with a trick before hitting a shot from just outside the area that took a deflection off the Roma defender to loop beyond Szczesny.

Spalletti's response to falling behind was to send on Edin Dzeko in place of El Shaarawy, giving Roma a focal point along its forward line. Only Varane's outstretched leg stopped the substitute from getting on the end of Mohamed Salah's low cross from the right, while Dzeko set up a shooting chance for William Vainqueur that flashed just wide.

Ronaldo narrowly missed a chance for a second goal at the other end, but Jese was on hand to give Madrid a commanding lead in the tie with an excellent run and finish four minutes from time.

Key stats:

- Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 12th goal of the season in the Champions League - only in 2013-14 (17 goals) has he scored more in a single campaign. 
- Ronaldo has now scored in 60 different Champions League matches; four more than any other player (Raul - 56).
- Ronaldo has scored four goals in five Champions League appearances against Roma.
- Roma have kept only one clean sheet in their last 21 Champions League games, against BATE Borisov (0-0, December 2015).
- Real Madrid have kept 13 clean sheets in their last 17 Champions League games.

In the other Champions League fixture on Wednesday night, >Wolfsburg beat Gent 3-2 in a thrilling game as the German side almost threw away a three goal lead after goals from Julian Draxler and Max Kruse.