Real Madrid CF underlined their supremacy in Europe and became the first team to book their place in the second group stage of this year?s UEFA Champions League with an emphatic 2-0 victory over RSC Anderlecht in the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
Anderlecht were never really in the match as Madrid?s Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo ran things in the midfield. The Spanish club enjoyed 56 per cent of the possession and this was a fair reflection of their dominance.
It took Madrid just 19 minutes to open the scoring, in a manner that is bound to cause controversy amongst two players on the flight home to Spain. From a corner the ball was played short to Roberto Carlos who drove one of his famously powerful shots into the area. Aleksandr Ilic, under pressure from Ra?l Gonz?lez, got a slight deflection and diverted the ball past the helpless Filip de Wilde in the Anderlecht goal. The strike was attributed to Ra?l, but it looked as though the Madrid striker never touched the ball.
The goal knocked the fight out of an Anderlecht side who had not looked that confident before they went behind. Madrid were looking increasingly dangerous while their goalkeeper César S?nchez was increasingly redundant.
Sure enough, their dominance paid off in the 35th minute when English midfielder Steve McManaman latched on to a deflected Michel Salgado shot to lash home Madrid's second goal from five metres. The chances continued to come, Ra?l missing a gilt-edged opportunity on 37 minutes. Albert Celades fed him a perfect through ball and with just the goalkeeper to beat the striker sliced the ball wide of the right-hand post.
Madrid certainly had the measure of Anderlecht's offensive game. Time and again the Belgian side launched balls towards the back post and time and again the visitors anticipated the move and cleared with the minimum of fuss. It would be the 73rd minute before the home side actually got an effort on target.
With a game to come vs. Lokomotiv and later one against Roma, there is still hope for the second round, but the UEFA cup is far more probable.