Isco's perfect free-kick paved the way for Real Madrid to start their latest Champions League defence with a 3-0 home win against Roma, with Gareth Bale and Mariano Diaz also on target.
Madrid are aiming to win the tournament for the fourth year in a row and Julen Lopetegui's side cruised to a comfortable Group G victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Isco took set-piece duties following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, and on the same night his former team-mate was sent off against Valencia, the Spain international whipped in a superb strike from 25 yards just before the break.
And Bale, scorer of a brace in Madrid's defeat of Liverpool in last season's final, made sure of the points with a placed finish after racing through on goal from Luka Modric's pass, with substitute Mariano going on to add a third in stoppage time.
Bale had a great chance to open the scoring in the fourth minute, but he rifled wide after collecting an excellent lofted pass from Toni Kroos, then Robin Olsen brilliantly denied Isco.
Kroos and Bale wasted further chances but while Olsen showed off his acrobatics to tip over a Sergio Ramos header he was helpless as Madrid took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Daniele De Rossi brought down Isco and the Spain star curled a brilliant free-kick into the top-left corner, Olsen seemingly deceived by the strike.
Keylor Navas was selected in goal rather than Thibaut Courtois and he parried away a drive from Cengiz Under, with Bale's deflected shot then bouncing back off the crossbar.
But the Wales star would not be denied again when Modric sent him clear, Bale arrowing a shot home with his trusty left boot.
Substitute Marco Asensio almost added a late third with a delightful no-look finish, but Mariano did wrap up the scoring in the first minute of added time with a fantastic turn and strike into the top-right corner on his first appearance since returning from Lyon.
What does it mean: No Ronaldo, no problem
For much of the first half Madrid missed their talisman as they failed to convert chances, but Isco, Bale and Mariano stepped up to deliver three points for Lopetegui in his first Champions League match in charge. That Ronaldo was dismissed as Juventus won away to Valencia will not have gone unnoticed in Madrid. Roma will still expect to qualify, though, as Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow are ordinary opposition.
Pat on the back: Isco the inspiration
It is fair to say Isco would certainly have not been given the chance to take the free-kick he scored had Ronaldo been on the pitch. But the Spain star justified stepping up with an unstoppable strike that was almost a carbon copy of an effort by Lionel Messi in Barcelona's defeat of PSV on Tuesday.
Boot up the backside: No platform from Dzeko
Starting up front alone was a tough assignment for Edin Dzeko and he did not get a lot of support from the other attackers in the Roma team. But the striker, who had scored in each of his last five appearances in the Champions League, did not hold the ball up for his side, which was surely the minimum expected of him by coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
Key Opta stats:
1 - Isco Alarcon scored his very first direct free-kick goal in the Champions League with his first attempt in the competition. Magic. pic.twitter.com/AFLYN0WS2k— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 19, 2018
- Roma have lost five of their last seven Champions League games against Real Madrid (2W).
- Roma are winless in their last six Champions League away games (1D 5L), conceding at least two goals per match in that period.
- Roma fired their most shots (13) without scoring a goal in a Champions League match since December 2015 (v Bate Borisov).
- Roma conceded their most shots (30) in a single Champions League game since March 2016 (v Real Madrid).
- Luka Modric has delivered at least an assist in each of last seven Champions League tournaments.
Madrid are at home to Espanyol in LaLiga on Saturday, while Roma are at Bologna on the following day in Serie A. The Italians will hope for a better result when they host Plzen when the Champions League returns, with Madrid heading to Moscow to play CSKA.
14 de diciembre 2018
|Pederson coy over Wentz back injury|
|Liverpool ´not really likely´ to be active in January window, reveals Klopp|
|Always on the move and unpredictable - Pavard reveals surprising choice over toughest opponent|
|We need to get back to respect - Lampard alarmed by hate in football|
|Giles returns to England to replace Strauss as director|
|Hansen has no issue with Milner-Skudder Toulon switch|
|Juventus to rest Ronaldo after Torino showdown|
|Titmus strikes gold again as world records tumble in Hangzhou|
|Malinga to captain Sri Lanka in New Zealand|
|Rivaldo would like ´excellent´ Isco at Barcelona|
|United a long way from Mourinho´s vision|
|´Klopp denies an answer!´ - Liverpool boss dismisses questions about ´world-class´ Pogba|
|Returning Nowitzki ´so tired´ after making NBA history|
|Aguero and De Bruyne in contention for Manchester City v Everton|
|Simeone has no plans to cash in on Costa|
|Canelo v Fielding: Alvarez´s greatest nights|
|Fabregas: Chelsea being unfairly scapegoated over racism allegations|
|Crisis? What crisis? Klopp focuses on defensive solutions for United clash|
|Hope cannot inspire Windies as Bangladesh cruise to series win|
|Benitez picks up Premier League Manager of the Month award|
|Chavez, Marquez and Canelo - Mexico´s greatest multi-weight world champions|
|Bale set to miss Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano|
|Robben out until January as Bayern look to avoid serious injury|
|Milan avoid UEFA ban in FFP punishments.|
|Mourinho compares Liverpool to ´an amazing house´ but insists trophies matter|
|Brisbane Roar 2 Melbourne Victory 4: Muscat´s men hit A-League summit|
|Bumrah confident second Test is ´in the balance´ after India recovery|
|Isco gesture was for a corner or foul, claims Solari|
|Harris leads Australia into ascendancy on day one|
|ATP announces candidates to host future Finals|
|Ronaldo: Juventus fans refuse to lose to Torino|
|Hero Rivers feared he had cost Chargers in KC|
|Williams would welcome Llorente back to Athletic Bilbao|
|Liverpool v Manchester United: Minding the gap|
|Milan elimination unjust, fumes Leonardo|
|Paul hails ´sick´ Harden after record-breaking display|
|Liverpool v Manchester United: Salah, Mane and Firmino v Rashford, Martial and Lukaku in Opta number|
|Canelo open to GGG trilogy as he chases place in Mexican history|
|The big Friday Premier League quiz|
|Harden posts record fourth 50-point triple-double in win over Lakers|
|Barcelona squad happy with Dembele, says Alba|
|Chargers rally past Chiefs to clinch playoff spot|
|WATCH: Chargers top Chiefs on dramatic two-point conversion in final seconds|
|Suns owner Sarver committed to keeping team in Phoenix|
|Chargers WR Allen leaves with injury after near-spectacular catch|
|Socceroos not giving up on Mooy for Asian Cup|
|Cooper says Raiders owner wanted to trade him to Cowboys|
|Pochettino jokes Levy is ´worried´ about losing him|
|Barcelona would welcome Morata – Alba|
|Toure not a priority for West Ham – Pellegrini|
|Koscielny no certainty to face Southampton, says Emery|
|We gifted the game – AC Milan boss Gattuso furious after Europa League exit|
|My season starts now, says Koscielny|
|Cipriani ´at peace´ with latest England snub|
|Laporte: Deschamps must have personal reasons for France snub|
13 de diciembre 2018
|Morata injury not too serious, claims Chelsea boss Sarri|
|Hansen to leave: All Blacks coach returning focus to World Cup defence|
|I want to fight the champion! - Joshua reiterates Wilder in April ambition|
|Gundogan glad to leave Christmas holidays behind|
|I know how it feels and it hurts - Gundogan on Sterling abuse|
|Celtic 1 Red Bull Salzburg 2: Scottish champions through despite defeat|
|Olympiacos 3 AC Milan 1: Rossoneri crash out of Europa League|
|Arsenal 1 Qarabag 0: Lacazette on target as Saka shines|
|Hansen to leave: All Blacks will take time to name replacement|
|Chelsea condemn alleged anti-Semitic chanting from fans|
|Hansen to leave: The best Opta facts from New Zealand coach´s tenure|
|Hansen to leave: Five contenders to be the next All Blacks coach|
|Hansen to leave: Highs and highs of his All Blacks reign|
|Hansen to leave All Blacks after World Cup|
|Rapid Vienna 1 Rangers 0: Late Ljubicic winner sends Gerrard´s men out|