MADRID (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo continued his blistering start to Real Madrid’s Champions League campaign when he struck twice in a 2-1 win at home to 10-man Juventus on Tuesday that put Real firmly in charge of Group B.
The Portuguese forward’s double took his goal tally in Europe’s elite club competition to seven in three appearances this season, only the second player to achieve the feat after AC Milan’s Filippo Inzaghi.
Ronaldo, who has also been on prolific form in La Liga, put Real ahead in fourth minute at the Bernabeu when he sped onto Angel Di Maria’s pass, rounded Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and finished superbly from a tight angle.
Spain forward Fernando Llorente levelled for the visitors in the 22nd minute before the referee ruled Giorgio Chiellini had impeded Sergio Ramos in the penalty area and Ronaldo put away the 29th-minute spot kick.
Italy centre back Chiellini had a night to forget as he was shown a straight red card three minutes into the second half when he checked Ronaldo’s run down the right with a flailing arm and Juve hardly threatened Real’s goal for the rest of the game.
Real, seeking the 10th European crown that has eluded them since 2002, top the group with a perfect nine points with three games to play, with Galatasaray in second on four points after they thumped bottom-placed FC Copenhagen 3-1 in Istanbul.
Juve are third on two points and the Italian champions are in real danger of failing to make the last 16 with their next game at home to Real looming on November 5.
“We have taken a very important step towards securing qualification,” Real captain Iker Casillas said on UEFA.com.
“It wasn’t easy but we have taken the first step, getting nine points from three matches,” added the Spain keeper. “We have to go to Turin now and at least avoid defeat.”
Ronaldo’s brace lifted him above former Real and Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy into third on the all-time list of Champions League top scorers with 57 goals.
Only Barcelona forward Lionel Messi with 63 and Raul, another ex-Real forward, with 71 are ahead of the 28-year-old.
There was no place in the Real starting line-up for Gareth Bale, who succeeded Ronaldo as the world’s most expensive player in the close season.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti deployed in-form Angel Di Maria on the right despite Bale’s return to action after injury as a second-half substitute against Malaga at the weekend.
The 100 million-euro (85.3 million pounds) Wales winger replaced Karim Benzema with just over 20 minutes left but failed to make much of an impact and did not manage to complete a single pass.
France striker Benzema turned in another disappointing performance, fluffing one easy chance on the hour when he was right in front of an empty goal, and was again roundly whistled by the impatient Real fans.
Their treatment of the 25-year-old was in stark contrast to the warm ovations given to both Llorente and Juve playmaker Andrea Pirlo when they made way in the second half.
Juve, two-time European champions, came into the match in Madrid after suffering their first defeat of the Serie A season when they squandered a two-goal lead and conceded four times in 14 minutes to lose 4-2 against Fiorentina.
Before Chiellini’s dismissal they looked capable of challenging Real, with Carlos Tevez busy up front and the impressive Paul Pogba roving down the left.
However, once they were a man down, they could only muster three attempts on goal compared to 10 in the first half.
“We are disappointed with the result, but I think we played a very good game,” Tevez said on UEFA.com.
“It was very difficult in the second half with 10 men,” added the Argentine.
“We don’t have to make excuses, we made mistakes today and when you make mistakes against these opponents you are always punished.”
Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Martyn Herman and Justin Palmer