Real Madrid open their UCL defence with thrashing of Basel


Real Madrid opened the defence of their Champions League title with a 5-1 mauling of Basel in Group B at the Santiago Bernabeu. Nearly four months on from securing La Decima in Lisbon, the record winners showed glimpses of their brilliant best and, after an own-goal from Marek Suchy got the ball rolling, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodrguez all found the target in seven first-half minutes. Derlis Gonzalez grabbed one back for Basel but Karim Benzema completed the scoring with 10 minutes remaining. The inclusion of Fernandez Nacho was the only real surprise for the Spanish giants, while summer signings Toni Kroos and Rodriguez made their Champions League debuts for Real. Suchy, Gonzalez, Mohamed El Nenny and Marco Streller all came in for Basel who included former Madrid defender Walter Samuel amongst their number. Real dominated the opening stages and took the lead after 14 minutes through Suchy's own-goal. The Spaniards played some nice stuff down the right and Rodriguez's backheel found Nacho, who hit a powerful ball across the face of goal and Suchy could not help but bundle it in at the near post. The second goal came on the half hour as Luka Modric produced a sublime pass with the outside of his right foot which went into the path of Bale on the left. The Welshman knocked the ball over the goalkeeper on the half-volley and then went round him to supply his own finish. Just a minute later, the former Tottenham duo were involved in the third with Modric again using the outside of the right foot to find Bale who this time was on the opposite wing. He squared the ball across the front of goal and Ronaldo was left with a simple tap-in. Real were absolutely rampant now and it was 4-0 eight minutes before the break as Ronaldo and Benzema exchanged passes for the Frenchman to have a shot from just inside the box. His shot deflected off Samuel and Tomas Vaclik did brilliantly to get a hand to it but Rodriguez was there to turn home the rebound. The game was as good as put to bed but Basel showed they had some fight as they responded within a minute when Luca Zuffi found Gonzalez, who left Sergio Ramos for dead and fired a smart shot across Iker Casillas from the edge of the box. Casillas made a straightforward save to deny Zuffi before, just after the hour, Ramos cajoled Ronaldo and Rodriguez into letting him a take a free-kick which sailed over the bar. The Real goalkeeper was then called upon to make a stunning reflex save to deny Gonzalez as Basel began to find their way into the game. In fact, the Swiss were beginning to have the better of it and Fabian Schar unleashed a fierce shot from the edge of the box which clipped a post on its way wide. The champions, however, are always a threat and they displayed their brilliant best for a fifth in the 80th minute. Ronaldo played a flicked pass to Benzema and, after the duo had exchanged two further passes, the France international broke into the area and unleashed a shot which went in off the under-side of the bar.