Cristiano Ronaldo netted a freekick and set up a goal for Mesut Ozil less than a minute later as Real Madrid overwhelmed fellow European giants AC Milan 2-0 to seize control of Champions League Group G on Tuesday.
Jose Mourinho’s young Real side, playing with energy and pace, dominated an aging and lackluster Milan team and cemented their place at the top of the group with a maximum nine points from three matches.
After a fast-paced opening 10 minutes with few clear chances, the in-form Ronaldo struck in the 13th minute with a fierce freekick that flew through the Milan wall.
With the visitors reeling, he then sprinted in from the left wing to feed Ozil on the edge of the penalty area and the German international’s first-time shot ballooned up off the back of central defender Daniele Bonera and into the net.
“The commitment, the work rate, the concentration — the team was fantastic,” Mourinho said in a television interview.
“Our goal is to stay top of the group and if we don’t lose to Milan in the return match we’ll be well on our way to qualifying,” added the Portuguese, who left for Madrid after leading Milan’s city rivals Inter to a treble of Champions League and Italian league and cup triumphs last season.
Real, who went top of La Liga over the weekend, are flying in their bid for a 10th title in Europe’s elite club competition and have yet to concede a goal in this year’s edition.
Seven-time European champions Milan, by contrast, are level on four points with Ajax Amsterdam at the halfway stage of the group phase and in danger of missing out on a place in the last 16.
Tuesday’s match at a boisterous Bernabeu stadium was briefly interrupted in the first minute when an intruder ran on to the pitch. The man, wearing a blue Superman t-shirt, evaded security guards for around 20 seconds before being felled by a hefty kick and dragged away.
When play got under way again, Milan were unable to cope with Real’s superior strength and speed and quickly fell two goals behind.
Andrea Pirlo, one of six players in Massimiliano Allegri’s starting 11 aged 30 or over, was the first of the visitors to threaten the home goal as late as the 29th minute.
Iker Casillas had to be alert to keep out the midfielder’s firmly struck freekick before former Real player Clarence Seedorf blazed over from a good position wide on the left.
That was as good as it got for Milan and in the second half Real’s front four created a string of chances, with Gonzalo Higuain, Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria all going close to a third.
A toothless Milan, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Pato laboring up front, rarely threatened.
In related news, two AC Milan fans were detained, and several others were injured, in Spain on Tuesday on the sidelines of Real Madrid’s win over the Italian side for clashing with police, Spanish media reported.
The clashes began when a Milan fan struck a policeman with a flagpole near Real’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium, the online edition of sports daily AS reported.That triggered a fight between a group of Milan fans and police, it said.
AJAX 2, AUXERRE 1
Four-time champions Ajax ignited their push for a place in the Champions League knockout phase with a 2-1 win at home to Auxerre on Tuesday.
The result moved Martin Jol’s side level on points with second-placed AC Milan in Group G, while Auxerre’s hopes of securing even a consolation place in the Europa League by finishing third now appear seriously compromised.
Auxerre demonstrated impressive discipline and commitment in their opening defeats at AC Milan and at home to Real Madrid, but their resistance crumbled after just six minutes at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Delvin N’Dinga was caught dwelling on the ball just outside his own area and Dutch international Demy de Zeeuw seized on the opportunity to crack a rising drive into the top-left corner.
Auxerre were without a string of first-team players and when they found the net in the 24th minute, the goal was ruled out for a clear foul on goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg by Roy Contout.
Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, one of the stars of the World Cup, made it 2-0 shortly before half-time by applying a deft finish to a sweeping move down the Ajax right flank.
The visitors were handed a lifeline in the 55th minute when Ajax center-back Andre Ooijer was sent off for a last-man foul on Dennis Oliech and Slovenian international Valter Birsa bent in the resulting free-kick to halve the arrears.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
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