A 2-0 win in Rome will have Madrid at ease after a solid display at Roma’s Stadio Olimpico, Los Blancos with one foot already in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
The win didn’t come easy. Much had been said leading up to the match, with the press harassing Ronaldo over his recent poor away record. Real had not won their last eight away fixtures in Italy, and were expected to struggle again.
And for the first half of the match, they did. Roma did well early on to frustrate Zidane’s men, who knew they had just fallen seven points behind Barcelona in La Liga. The Champions League represents Real’s best, and most likely only chance at silverware this season, adding even more pressure to the encounter.
But Ronaldo, who is more than accustomed to high-intensity European matches, had a point to prove. On the 57th minute, the Portuguese silenced his critics with a wonderful—albeit deflected—effort past Szczesny after cutting in on Florenzi from the left.
Madrid soon gained momentum and looked evermore dangerous as the second half progressed, Ronaldo almost connecting with a superb cross from James Rodriiguez to double the lead in the 72nd minute, before returning the favor 5 minutes later.
However, despite Real’s resurgence, Roma continued to knock on Navas’ door through a few long-range attempts. Dzeko could have equalized for the hosts in the 78th, after Pjanic put him through on goal.
But Los Blancos were determined to break the Italian spell, and sealed the away victory five minutes from time as substitute Jese took advantage of Lucas Digne’s defensive hesitations to drill a low strike out of Szczesny’s reach and into the back of the net.
Zidane was pleased with Real’s performance, and pointed to Ronaldo as the driving force behind the victory, “The first half was difficult, and we improved a lot in the second half. There will always be one man who makes the difference, and today that was Cristiano.”
Real Madrid return to La Liga action on the weekend as they visit Malaga in what could be a complicated fixture, while Roma host Palermo for the Serie A on Sunday.