Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace on his return from suspension for Real Madrid, as Tottenham Hotspur ended their Wembley jinx and Liverpool were held on their Champions League comeback on Wednesday.
Real have sorely missed their Portuguese superstar as he serves a five-match domestic ban for pushing a referee.
But he wasted no time in making his towering presence felt against Apoel Nicosia, scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross, and then doubling his tally from the penalty spot before Sergio Ramos’s overhead kick rounded off the cosy 3-0 win.
Ronaldo has now struck 12 times in his last six Champions League games.
“He is the best in the world. We know he will always score goals,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
“With a bit more luck today he could have scored four. Cristiano has so many goals in him and we feel it.”
“Hopefully he stays in form. You can’t question the levels he reaches every year,” added Ramos.
The titleholders top Group H with Tottenham, who ended their woeful Wembley run with an impressive Harry Kane-inspired 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.
Already scarred by damaging Wembley defeats in the Champions League and FA Cup semi-finals last term, Tottenham had lost to Chelsea and drawn with Burnley this season, sparking alarmist talk that they were jinxed at the hallowed north London venue.
But, after losing eight of their previous 12 matches at Wembley, Kane’s predatory finishing ensured Tottenham finally enjoyed a night to remember in their temporary lodgings.
Son Heung-Min’s first goal of the season put Tottenham ahead early on with Andriy Yarmolenko conjuring a sublime equaliser.
Kane, who scored twice in Saturday’s win at Everton, restored Tottenham’s advantage before the interval and wrapped up the victory with his second goal after halftime.
The only blemish for Spurs was a late sending off for a second bookable offence for Jan Vertonghen, who swung his forearm into Mario Gotze’s face.
“It was so important to win, we are so happy. We increased our level in the second half and were very clinical,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said.
“It is more than three points. The team is more mature now. Harry Kane was fantastic.”
COSTLY FIRMINO MISS
At Anfield, Roberto Firmino’s first-half penalty miss proved costly for Liverpool as Joaquin Correa scored a dramatic equaliser to grab Sevilla a 2-2 draw.
Anfield was in jubilant mood as the English club welcomed back Champions League football after a two-year absence, but it took Sevilla just four minutes to dampen the enthusiasm.
After Wissam Ben Yedder had given the Spanish side an early lead, goals from Firmino and Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead, only for Firmino to miss a penalty.
On the hour, Sevilla manager Eduardo Berizzo was dismissed for throwing the ball away from Liverpool’s Joe Gomez as he tried to take a throw-in, but his disappointment was eased, thanks to Correa, on 72 minutes, reports supersport.com.
“Of course I’m not happy with the result but I’m happy with a big part of the game,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.
“A lot of times when good teams play each other, the games are kind of boring, but this game was the opposite. And that was due to the desire, the passion, the greed of my team.”
Liverpool and Sevilla were joined on one point in Group E by Spartak Moscow and Maribor, who drew 1-1 in Slovenia.
Manchester City ran out the biggest winners of the night with a 4-0 rout of Feyenoord in Rotterdam courtesy of goals from Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and John Stones’ double.
City coach Pep Guardiola commented: “We did not play back… We were aggressive… We had the legs to run on the side, especially on the right and created the chances. Enough to win the game comfortably.”
Shakhtar Donetsk beat Napoli 2-1 to share the summit in Group F.
French champions Monaco were held 1-1 at competition newcomers RB Leipzig in Germany as Besiktas topped Group G with a 3-1 win at Porto.
Saudi Arabia World Cup 2018 team plane catches fire in mid air after ‘bird flies into engine’
Saudi Arabia’s official team plane caught fire in mid air as they travelled to their World Cup match on Wednesday.
The Green Falcons, who fell to a 5-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Russia on the opening day of the World Cup, were on their way to Rostov in preparation for their second Group A match when the incident happened.
Flames were seen from the engine as the Russian Airlines Airbus as they flew in to take on Uruguay on Wednesday.
An official statement read from the football association read: “The Saudi Football Federation wishes to reassure everyone about the safety of all members of the mission of the national team after a minor technical malfunction in an engine.
— A. 🇩🇪 (@AhmedMashaly24) June 18, 2018
“The plane landed a few minutes ago at Rostov on Don Airport, and UNOMIG personnel are now safely heading to their residence.”
Videos uploaded to twitter show fire shooting from the engines underneath the wings.
The plane was a Rossiya Russian Airlines Airbus A319-100 and no one was hurt in what must have been a terrifying incident.
A statement from Rossiya claimed that the preliminary cause of malfunction was a bird flying into the engine – but both were working on landing at Rostov-on-Don.
“As flight FV1007 from St Petersburg to Rostov-on-Don began to land, the (Airbus) A319 plane suffered a technical fault with one of its engines, with a bird getting caught seen as the preliminary cause,” a Rossiya airlines spokesman said.
“Nothing threatened the safety of the passengers. The aircraft’s landing took place in a routine fashion. No warning was sounded during the landing at Rostov-on-Don airport,” the spokesman said.
The players were then filmed calmly leaving the stricken jet, which is 12 years old, before travelling to their hotel in the south of the country after leaving Moscow.
The aircraft was initially purchased as new by American airline Frontier Airlines, before being bought by Russian-based Donavia in July 2013.
Ezenwa: We can still progress
Despite defeat to Croatia in which many fan described the Super Eagles performance as far below par, Enyimba International FC goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, as come out to state that the team is still very focus on making it out of Group D.
“We remain focus as a team so as not to allow the defeat against Croatia weighs us down because we got two winnable matches ahead,” he said.
The former IfeanyiUbah goaltender went on to describe the experience as a big lesson for the team even as he went on to encourage Uzoho [a player he calls his younger brother] to not allow the result affect him as his performance was very good despite conceding two.
“It’s a big lesson for us. We have taken the positives from the game and moved on. The focus now is on our next game against Iceland.
“Uzoho did very well despite losing 2 – 0 on the night. He should remain focused and not allow the defeat weigh him down.
“I have been encouraging him (Uzoho) because I see him as a younger brother as he did his best but the two goals he conceded were not chances anyone would say he should have saved.”
Iceland show support for Ikeme
Super Eagles next World Cup Group D foes Iceland have backed Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme to beat the acute leukemia he was diagnosed with last year.
Iceland face the Eagles in Volgograd on Friday in continuation of the World Cup in Russia.
Iceland forward Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, a former teammate of Ikeme at Wolverhampton Wanderers, has posted on Twitter a picture holding a shirt with Ikeme’s name and No.1 on it with his teammates surrounding him.
Ikeme, who would have been the Super Eagles first choice in Russia, was diagnosed with acute leukemia during a pre-season routine medical check-up at his club Wolverhampton Wanderers.
He is now undergoing treatment in England
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