Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice in his 150th European match to secure victory for Real Madrid against Borussia Dortmund. Gareth Bale also scored for the visitors, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang netted early in the second half to give Peter Bosz’ side momentary hope.
Madrid had never won in Dortmund, losing three and drawing three of the six previous meetings between the two sides. Yet the hosts played with an accommodating style, a high defensive line that provided space for Bale and Ronaldo to exploit.
The focus was on the reigning LaLiga and Champions League champions after a stuttering victory away at Alavés at the weekend. There was no lack of rhythm in Germany as the game began at a frenetic pace.
Dortmund deployed a high press, pressurising the Real Madrid defenders deep inside their own territory. The fatal product of that approach, from the home side’s perspective, was vast space in behind the defence, which the intrepid Madrid attack exploited from the start.
Dani Carvajal was the first white-shirted player to stretch his legs in the space that the gung-ho Dortmund players had left unoccupied. The right-back is the only Madrid player to have played every minute of every match so far this season, but he showed no sign of fatigue as he raced on to a through ball after ten minute. He careered in to the box, chopped inside on to his left foot, and forced Roman Bürki in to a smart save at his near post.
Carvajal may not have made the initial breakthrough, but he provided a superb assist for Gareth Bale to open the scoring in emphatic fashion. The Welshman watched Carvajal’s cross all the way on to the instep of his left boot, and he guided it in to the top corner on the volley.
Dortmund were unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty minutes before the opening goal, when Sergio Ramos appeared to handle the ball on the line as Maximilian Philipp’s cut-back edged towards the far corner.
The home side appeared blunted by that two-pronged early blow. They had not conceded in their first five Bundesliga matches this season, but Gareth Bale stung the palms of Bürki once again before Bjorn Kuipers blew for half time.
Cristiano Ronaldo had been anonymous in the first half, drifting out to the right to make himself available, but unable to affect play when his team-mates found him. The first half of his 400th Real Madrid game was forgettable, the second half was incisive.
Raphael Varane made an acrobatic goal-line clearance in the first minute of the second half, as the game remained entertainingly hectic. Yet a coolness descended over the Signal Iduna Park as Ronaldo scored Madrid’s second with a clinical move. Kroos threaded a pass to Bale on the left, he strode forward and centred the ball for the Portuguese to stab in to the net.
The two-goal lead only lasted for five minutes. Neat interplay on Dortmund’s left culminated in Gonzalo Castro swinging a teasing cross in to the six-yard box, where Aubameyang was waiting to poke in a goal for the home side.
The match continued in swashbuckling fashion until Ronaldo popped up again to seal the victory. With ten minutes remaining, the 32-year-old latched on to Luka Modric’s through ball and fired a fizzing effort inside Bürki’s near post.
Real Madrid and Tottenham lead Group H with six points apiece, with the meeting between the two in the next round of fixtures a mouth-watering prospect. Dortmund are keeping APOEL company at the bottom of the group, and the Germans’ chances of progression already appear slim.
Dortmund v Real Madrid: Champions League preview
Real Madrid head back into the Champions League where they hope to leave the suspect LaLiga form behind them. They travel to Borussia Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park to take on the current Bundesliga leaders at 20:45 CEST.
The home side have never lost at home against Real Madrid with Zidane and co. coming in search of their first win following three lossss and three draws since their first visit back in 1998.
Borussia Dortmund latest news
Peter Bosz moved from Ajax to Borussia Dortmund in the summer having led a young side to the Europa League final. All signs point towards similar success after his first couple of weeks in the job in the Bundesliga. He insists, however, that Real Madrid are not vulnerable despire their questionable league form and injuries.
Bosz has his side playing attacking, high-pressure football, which sees Dortmund lead the Bundesliga with a two-point cushion after Bayern Munich's slip-up against Wolfsburg on Friday night with Hoffenheim in hot pursuit too. Dortmund hammered Borussia Mönchengladbach 6-1 to ensure there was no mix-up as to whether they would be putting in a title challenge or not. They lost 3-1 to Spurs in their first game but need to straighten the ship and Mario Gotze sent out a warning to their opponents on Tuesday night saying, "we are in really good form and playing at home".
Julian Weigl made his first start in four months having recovered sufficiently from a broken ankle but won't start given his lack of game. Bosz will also be without Marc Bartra, however, along with Sebastian Rode, Marco Reus, Raphael Guerreiro and Marcel Schmelzer.
Probably line-up: Bürki; Piszczek, Sokratis (c), Toprak, Zagadou; Castro, Sahin, Götze; Yarmolenko, Aubameyang, Pulisic.
Real Madrid latest news
Zinedine Zidane is taking it one game at a time and while he appreciates that Real Madrid have not been taking their chances, he says "I believe in what we are doing and the players I have".
Real Madrid beat Alavés at the weekend but did so under some pressure as they failed to put the game to bed at 2-1. Ronaldo still hasn't scored in his return to action in the league but as Ronaldo says, "the Champions League is Real Madrid's competition" and is an entirely different beast altogether.
Toni Kroos trained with the group on Monday and looks set to start despite missing out on the trip to Vitoria at the weekend.
Meanwhile, Zidane has no fresh injury concerns with Benzema, Kovacic, Theo and Marcelo continuing in their respective recoveries.