UEFA Champions League title holders Real Madrid escaped an embarrassing opening game upset against Sporting CP. The defending champions had to come from behind to seal a last-minute victory at the Santiago Bernabeu with a final score of 2-1 on Wednesday.
The first group stage matches of the UEFA Champions League 2016/17 season have been concluded. Real Madrid started their title defense at home, but the holders looked in danger of an upset right until the very last minutes of the game.
The first half of the match was uneventful, except for an injury scare from Gareth Bale. He hobbled off the pitch at halftim, but was able to return for the second half. Unfortunately for Los Blancos, Sporting CP managed to score almost as soon as the second half started. In the 47th minute, Bruno César drilled the ball into the corner to secure a 1-0 lead for the visitors.
Real Madrid took control of the possession and pounded the Sporting CP side with numerous attempts. However, the crossbar and Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio denied the charging Madridistas. Zinedine Zidane decided to bring in the trio of Lucas Vazquez, James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata to take over from Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
The substitutions made a big impact, as Vazquez quickly picked Cristiano Ronaldo for a cross. The Portuguese star hit the bar and minutes later, Ronaldo finally scored the leveller with an exquisite free kick. After having equalized, Real Madrid were not satisfied with a draw.
James teamed up with Morata in the final minute of the game and showed exactly why they deserve more time on the pitch. James expertly controlled the ball and launched a cross straight at Morata. The latter found the back of the net with ease and sealed the victory at the 94th minute.