Paris Saint-Germain face a huge task to reach the Champions League quarter-finals after Cristiano Ronaldo defied talk that his powers are waning with two goals as Real Madrid won 3-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Billed as a contest between World Player of the Year Ronaldo and his Brazilian heir-in-waiting Neymar, the 33-year-old Portuguese came out emphatically on top as he became the first player to score 100 Champions League goals for the same club.
“He who never fails”, said sports daily Marca of Ronaldo’s latest decisive contribution on a pulsating evening at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ronaldo dragged Real level with a penalty — his 100th Champions League goal for the club — after Adrien Rabiot had given PSG the lead, fed by a cheeky Neymar backheel.
As PSG seemed to be heading for a draw that would have put the French side in the driving seat for the return leg on March 6, Ronaldo turned the match in Madrid’s favour with a scrappy goal that bounced in off his knee.
Marcelo then completed the turnaround to show PSG — who have never won the Champions League — the value of the experience of winning the competition 12 times.
Zinedine Zidane’s side have been flagging domestically, leaving the French coach under pressure, but Madrid’s other major sports daily As called the performance “the late push of a team who still rule in Europe”.