|Thursday, September 05, 2002||English|
Real fails to impress against Espanyol in front of Ronaldo
Madrid (Agence France-Presse): Real Madrid got its Spanish league campaign off to a winning start with a 2-0 victory over Espanyol here on Monday but the European champion did little to impress new recruit Ronaldo.
With the Brazilian sitting in the directors' box, having been given a thunderous ovation when he took his place, Real played elegant soccer and controlled the midfield.
However, it rarely looked like emulating the 5-1 thrashing it handed out to the Barcelona-based visitors in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago.
Spanish international mid-fielder Ivan Helguera nodded home a Luis Figo corner after 34 minutes to get Real Madrid off the mark, although the ball was given a helping hand into the net by Espanyol goalkeeper Sergio Sanchez.
English midfielder Steve McManaman added to Espanyol's woe two minutes before the whistle by catching the visitors' defense napping and latching onto a perfectly timed Raul pass to slot past Sanchez.
McManaman had only been on the pitch six minutes, coming on as a late substitute for Figo.
Espanyol contributed little to the game, seemingly happy to settle for a defeat that didn't humiliate them, apart from Argentine striker Martin Posse.
He seemed to be the only man in a blue and white jersey interested in regularly contesting possession, and had a rasping short from 25 metres bounce off the cross bar with 15 minutes to go.
Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas was left to perform stretching exercises to keep himself occupied midway through the second half.
Indicative of the fact that trouble could be ahead in the Real Madrid dressing room after the 45 million euro transfer of Ronaldo from Inter-Milan, Fernando Morientes was given cheers which reached the rafters of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium when he came on with 10 minutes to go.
The Spanish international striker is the man most likely to lose his place in Reals stalling lineup with the arrival of the World Cup winner.
Several players, including club captain Fernando Hierro have already made it known that they are unhappy with the way Real president Florentino Perez has treated Morientes.