SOFIA, October 2-Cristiano Ronaldo helped Champions League holders Real Madrid survive an early scare in Bulgaria and come away with all three points from a 2-1 win over Ludogorets Razgrad in Sofia on Wednesday.
Ludogorets, a modest provincial club who have only been in existence for 13 years, stunned the 10-time European champions with a sixth-minute strike and threatened throughout despite Ronaldo taking a hand.
The Portuguese star missed one penalty and had a goal disallowed before scoring from a second spot-kick to spare Real’s blushes — all in the first 25 minutes.
French striker Karim Benzema made sure Real’s reputation remained intact with the winning goal 13 minutes from time.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said: “For us the result is good. We started by trailing 1-0 but then pressured Ludogorets and managed to score for 1-1 and then take the lead.
“We could have scored more goals but in general I am content. I am glad that we won.”
Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendzhiev said: “It was a good game, but the result could have been better for us.
“Ludogorets played a good match against the best team in the world. I am pleased, we almost got a point.”
The home crowd went wild in the sixth minute when the normally-composed Sergio Ramos made a mess of Fabio Espinho’s corner and Marcelinho nipped in to head in from two yeards out.
Four minutes later, Luka Modric slid a ball in behind the Bulgarian defence and Yordan Minev mistimed his tackle to concede the penalty, only for Ronaldo’s effort to be saved by goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov.
On 14 minutes, Ronaldo fired home into the bottom corner, but he was flagged for offside.
But he finally made amends 10 minutes later after he was brought down by Alexander Alexandrov and stepped up to knock the penalty home.
Ronaldo could have added a second on 35 minutes but just failed to get a head to Javier Hernandez’s cross and had and had another gilt-edged chance early in the second half.
In between Ludogorets fans were sure their side had taken the lead when Roman Bezjakl rounded off a crisp move with a clinical strike only for the offside flag to be raised again.
The wild scenes in the stadium meant Bezjak celebrated for almost half-a-minute before realising his strike had ruled out.
In an end-to-end encounter, Real’s class finally told 13 minutes from time when substitute Karim Benzema killed the tie off to give the Spanish side six points from their two games.
Marcelo’s pinpoint cross was met by the Frenchman with a clinical volley to silence the Sofia crowd.
Ludogorets have to play their matches in the capital as their own stadium holds just 6,500.