Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Madrid make their case

Mmm . . . you smell good . . . is it "Intimately Beckham"?

I have to be honest. Although I was supposed to watch Dynamo Kiev meet up with Real Madrid in all earnest, I must've played the whole game about three different times today, and was constantly distracted by something more compelling. I watched dust drift over my keyboard, arranged the pencils on my desk by lead hardness, and absent-mindedly scratched myself in various areas. All of these activities I found more interesting than watching this game.

By now, if you're a Real Madrid fan, you're silently cursing my ignorance over a 5-1 goalfest at the Bernabeau. How could you miss an open end-to-end game that saw braces from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Raul, and cracking shot from Jose Antonio Reyes, you're probably asking. And to make it even more exciting, Real Madrid's defense exhibited the same weaknesses it showed in Matchday 1. I suppose better teams may have taken advantage of the "improving" Real Madrid, but I never really thought Real had a chance to lose this one.

It all started with a giveaway/semi-howler scored by van Nistelrooy, where Roberto Carlos' shot bounced off Dynamo Kiev keeper Oleksandr Shovkovskiy and fell to the Dutchman, who tapped it home. A nicely poached effort from the king of all poachers when he was with Man United in the Premiership. In a tremendous show of originality, he mimed rocking a baby, in honor of his child born earlier in the day.

Real's second goal was equally as easy (and embarrassing for Kiev) when Reyes sent a perfect header to Kiev's far post, just over the lone defender and into the path of Raul, who headed it home. A much-welcomed goal for the Real Madrid legend, but as with the first goal, more of a poor defensive performance from the Ukranian side than brilliance on Real's part.

Jose Antonio Reyes put the Spanish giants up by three with his superb strike from a Mahamadou Diarra cross, curling his shot past the keeper with the outside of his foot. Definitely the best goal of the match, in my opinion, and Real walked into the tunnel with a 3-0 lead.

Kiev pulled a goal back two minutes after the restart when Artem Milevskiy followed up a shot from Carlos Correa that Casillas failed to hold, but it all seemed too little too late.

Raul scored his second, showing just how poorly Kiev played, when he pounced onto a poor back pass from Goran Gavrancic, and it remained ugly for Kiev. The fifth, and van Nistelrooy's second came when he was brought down by the Kiev keeper, who saw red, and slotted the penalty home past the substitute keeper.

Absolute total domination for Real Madrid, I'll give them that. Raul finding some goal-scoring form, van Nistelrooy and Reyes looking like great additions, and Beckham, Robinho and Ronaldo getting run-outs are all posititives for Fabio Capello, enough to silence some critics in Spain, at least for a day or two. But you have to wonder if a better side could've carved up that central spine of defense, that not only have failed to impress, but look flat-footed at times. A much-needed win for Real, not just in terms of the points, but for their overall confidence as well. For Kiev, with Lyon awaiting them, they may have to concentrate on their domestic form and wait for next year.

Real Madrid beats Dynamo Kiev 5-1 [Fox Sports]

Group E Standings [UEFA.com]

Matchday 2 Results: Tuesday [UEFA.com]

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