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Footbal: Madrid thump past battling Monaco

Published on 25/03/2004

MADRID, March 24 (AFP) - Real Madrid turned on the style in the second half to earn a deserved 4-2 win over Monaco in their Champions League quarter-final first leg here on Wednesday.

Second-half goals from Sebastien Squillaci – the Monaco defender putting through his own net after opening the scoring at the other end just before half time – and Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo sealed victory.

However the reigning Spanish champions endured some uncomfortable moments before they finally took control midway through the second period.

Zidane hit the post after 30 minutes and the hosts had the better of the first half but Squillaci opened the scoring two minutes before the break, tapping the ball home during a goalmouth scramble.

Real left the field at the break with more than the referee’s whistle ringing in their ears.

However, Squillaci went from hero to villan five minutes after half time when he put through his own net following a David Beckham corner.

The goal seemed to give Real the green light to attack at will but they still took 20 minutes to break through a haphazard Monaco defence that rode its luck and had an inspired goalkeeper in Flavio Roma.

Zidane put Real ahead after 70 minutes, picking up a long pass from Jose Maria Gutierrez and breaking away down the left flank.

Roma parried Zidane’s first effort from close range but then failed to save the French midfielder’s second attempt.

Shortly afterwards, Ronaldo was tripped by Squillaci and Luis Figo scored the penalty on the second attempt, the Portuguese midfielder heading home the rebound after Roma had initially saved his shot from the spot.

After 80 minutes it was the turn of Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo to add his name to the scoresheet, getting a goal that was cheered to the rafters of the Santiago Bernabeu after missing Real’s last four games.

The party was slightly spoiled just a minute later when former Real Madrid striker Fernando Morientes got partial revenge on the club that discarded him last summer but the victory will still be a huge boost to Real’s morale.

Real’s confidence has taken a battering, at least in the Spanish media, over the last seven days after losing the Spanish Cup final 3-2 to Real Zaragoza last Wednedsday, then going down 4-2 at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

The critics will again have plenty to look at despite the victory.

Real definitely did not fire on all cylinders for 90 minutes and on several occasions, especially when Monaco scored, many of their players’ attention was clearly wavering.

Beckham had another lacklustre night with the ball at his feet, although his energy could not be faulted, and Real’s central defence was a shaky as their French counterparts.

Monaco’s two away goals will also give their coach Didier Deschamps slight hope that they can cause an upset and overhaul the two-goal deficit to reach their third semi-final in a decade.


                                                              Subject: France news