Real Madrid beat Roma 2-0 in their Champions League last-16 first leg at the Stadio Olimpico, with away goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese giving them the upper hand.
Ronaldo, who hadn’t scored an away goal in any competition since Nov. 29, put Real Madrid up 1-0 in the 57th minute with a curled effort that deflected past Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Real dominated possession in the first half, pinning Roma back in their defensive third for large chunks of the game, but couldn’t find a way through.
Roma did look dangerous on the counter-attack on several occasions, with Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy forcing the action when the Italian side broke free of their own half.
Real’s best chance of the first half came when Ronaldo flipped the ball to Marcelo in the Roma penalty area, but the Brazilian’s curling first-time strike went just wide of the far post.
El Shaarawy nearly put Roma ahead before half-time when he collected a long pass just past midfield and ran at Keylor Navas’ goal only to be denied at the last second by a retreating Dani Carvajal.
Roma came out the stronger of the two teams after the break, once again finding plenty of space on the counter. Radja Nainggolan’s effort from 18 yards was deflected away and El Shaarawy almost got to the ball as Navas came off his line to sweep away.
However, Real Madrid soon got the upper hand as Ronaldo chased down a through ball from Marcelo, cut back and hit a curling effort that beat Wojciech Szczesny after deflecting off Alessandro Florenzi.
The goal was Ronaldo’s 33rd in the Champions League on the road over the last six seasons.
A desperate Roma weren’t done, though, with Salah’s pace continuing to open up opportunities to run at Real Madrid’s goal. The Egyptian nearly played substitute Edin Dzeko in with a curling cross after a run down the right flank.
Minutes later, Dzeko laid the ball off to William Vainqueur following a goalmouth scramble, but the midfielder’s well-struck volley blazed wide.
Dzeko again got in on goal in the 80th minute, but his quick turn and shot hit the side netting.
Roma players felt hard done when the referee did not point to the spot following a late Carvajal tackle on Florenzi in the Madrid penalty area.
Substitute Jese scored the clinching goal when played through in the 86th minute, firing beyond Szczesny into the bottom corner, and Zinedine Zidane’s team were able to kill off the remainder of the match.
The win marked Real’s first away win in their last nine attempts against Italian sides, with their last win on Italian soil a 3-0 victory against Roma in 2004.
The two teams meet again at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 8 to determine who will advance to the quarterfinals.