Gareth Bale, Real Madrid Win Champions League Group with 2-0 Win vs. AS Roma

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist INovember 27, 2018

ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 27: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the Group G match of the UEFA Champions League between AS Roma and Real Madrid  at Stadio Olimpico on November 27, 2018 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez were both on target for Real Madrid in a 2-0 UEFA Champions League win over Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.

The victory means the holders have secured top spot in Group G ahead of the final round of fixtures, Roma also go through as runners-up despite the defeat.

Viktoria Plzen's 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow earlier in the day ensured both teams could not be caught at the top of Group G before the game had kicked off in Rome.

The result meant the pressure was off, but neither team could find a goal in a lively first half. Roma just edged proceedings with Thibaut Courtois saving from Patrik Schick and Aleksandar Kolarov firing wide.

The best chance of the first half fell to Cengiz Under right on half-time. The 21-year-old looked destined to tap home Schick's cross at the far post but inexplicably managed to put it over the bar from a matter of yards.

Roma were made to pay for that miss within minutes of the restart. A poor header from Federico Fazio fell straight to Gareth Bale, and he finished clinically past Robin Olsen.

The visitors secured the win on the hour mark. Bale's cross was nodded down by Karim Benzema for Vazquez to seal victory.


Bale Answers Critics, Doesn’t Deserve To Be Dropped

Bale came into the game amid speculation over his place in the team and his future at the club. Madrid have reportedly lost patience with the Welshman, according to Sergio Santos Chozas at AS.

Meanwhile, Marca reported he received the fewest votes from a supporter poll asking fans who should start for Real Madrid against Roma.

ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan said Bale's been trying too hard:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

I don't buy the idea Bale not working / caring enough - even possible he's trying too hard to make difference, things just keep not coming off for him.

However, Bale answered his critics with the opening goal on 47 minutes. While the opener stemmed from some awful defending, Bale still had work to do and made no mistake with his finish.

UEFA highlighted his impressive Champions League goalscoring record:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

⚽️ Gareth Bale's record in this competition : 2⃣0⃣ GOALS 5⃣8⃣ GAMES #UCL https://t.co/4psWGRSz3a

Bale might have had a second two minutes later. He was sent through on goal and tried to lift the ball over goalkeeper Olsen who managed to deny the forward.

A second goal arrived just before the hour mark with Bale involved again. The 29-year-old found Benzema, who nodded the ball down for Vazquez to double the visitors' lead.

It was an effective and much-needed performance from Bale after a poor showing in the 3-0 defeat to Eibar on Saturday.

He seemed to visibly grow in confidence after his goal and enjoyed a bright second half. His goal was just his second in his last 11 outings, but he'll be hoping he can now kick on and go on a strong goalscoring run.


Horror Miss Shows Cengiz Under Not Ready For Big Move Yet

Roma's 21-year-old winger Under was one of the hosts' liveliest performers in the first half. He was a threat down the right side and gave Marcelo plenty to think about with his pace and delivery into the penalty area.

The youngster has already been linked with a move away from the Italian capital ahead of the January transfer window.

Premier League clubs Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have all been linked with a move, according to Calciomercato.

Yet Under still seems to have plenty to learn, as highlighted by his horror miss in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

The youngster showed a complete lack of composure to sky a simple chance over the bar. His poor miss prompted plenty of disbelief:

Ben Hayward @bghayward

Under over. How?

Rik Sharma @riksharma_

Incredible miss from Roma striker Under. Don't think I've seen a worse one at this level.

Robbie Dunne @robbiejdunne

A good solid fifteen minutes now to figure it just how he missed that.

There's no doubt that Under is a talented performer who has a big future ahead of him, but for now Roma looks to be the best place for him to develop and gain more experience.


Real Madrid Must Stick With Llorente As Casemiro Back-Up

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari opted to go with Marcos Llorente in midfield in place of the injured Casemiro and was rewarded with an impressive showing from the 23-year-old.

The youngster has barely featured for Real Madrid and has very little Champions League experience, as highlighted by Corrigan:

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Before tonight Marcos Llorente played 90 mins in Copa at Melilla and 11 mins in Liga this season. Over whole career has just 21 mins in UCL - as sub at home to Dortmund two years back.

However, he showed few signs of nerves and produced a commanding performance in midfield. He was alert to danger, calm in possession and broke up play.

Solari must now stick with the 22-year-old while Casemiro remains out. He is far more suited to the role than the more attack-minded Dani Ceballos and showed he has the quality to play at the very highest level.


What's Next?

Both teams return to domestic action at the weekend. Real Madrid face Valencia at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. Roma play a day later against Inter Milan at the Stadio Olimpico.