Gareth Bale 8/10, Karim Benzema 7/10 as Real Madrid bounce back at Roma
Real Madrid rode their luck in the first half but came on strong in the second as goals from Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez gave the Champions League holders a 2-0 victory in Tuesday's Group G game at Roma.
Viktoria Plzen's 2-1 comeback win at CSKA Moscow earlier in the evening had already guaranteed Madrid passage to the last 16, and this victory means Santi Solari's side have won the group and will be seeded in the draw.
Confidence seemed to return throughout the team once they went ahead, youngster Marcos Llorente impressed on his first UCL start and Bale will definitely benefit from a more positive evening.
There are too many big-name individuals still well short of their top form. But for an amazing miss from Roma winger Cengiz Under, Madrid would have been 1-0 down at half-time, and needed a shocking mistake by opposition defender Federico Fazio to gift them the opener.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Solari opened himself up for criticism by leaving fans and pundits' favourite Isco out of the matchday squad completely, but his surprise choice of previously barely used Llorente in midfield went pretty well. No sign yet of any real changes to how the team plays, but this victory and last-16 qualification should move the narrative on from the weekend's embarrassment at Eibar.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- Excellent save with his foot when Patrik Schick seemed set to open the scoring in the first half. Very happy to boot the ball long and avoid any risks when Roma pressed high, and got away with one unnecessary sprint from his line at 2-0 up.
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- Made at least three vital blocks inside his own six-yard box to stop dangerous Roma attacks. On the other hand, looked rusty in possession on his first start back after injury absence, and almost gifted Under the opening goal just before half-time.
DF Raphael Varane, 5 -- Still looking a shadow of his World Cup self, Varane got away with a few hairy moments at 0-0, although he will be happy to have got a win after six defeats and a draw in his previous seven Madrid games.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- The usual mix of some crucial clearances with more sloppy passing and questionable bursts forward on the ball.
DF Marcelo, 6 -- Given a tough evening by the pace of Roma's dangerman Under, caught out of position a few times. Still does not look physically at 100 percent following recent injury issues.
MF Luka Modric, 6 -- Another discreet game from the presumed Ballon d'Or elect, who did not worry Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen with two shots from edge of the area. Had to take a yellow after arriving late to try to stop a Stephan El Shaarawy break.
MF Marcos Llorente, 8 -- The 23-year-old made a very positive impression after surprisingly getting called into injured Casemiro's holding role. A couple of useful interceptions led to quick Madrid breaks, and he looks likely to keep his place for now.
MF Toni Kroos, 7 -- The most involved on the ball of Madrid's midfielders, he seemed to be targeted for tactical fouling by opponents, but still seems to be playing with the handbrake on.
FW Gareth Bale, 8 -- Was having another frustrating night until he expertly took his time and picked his spot when presented with a chance by a wayward Federico Fazio header. Should have added another on the break soon afterwards, before providing an excellent cross in the build-up to the second.
FW Karim Benzema, 7 -- A relatively quiet game but the No. 9 looks personally in better nick than his fellow Galacticos. The headed assist for Lucas Vazquez's goal was very neat. Almost made it 3-0 but denied by a decent Olsen save.
FW Lucas Vazquez, 6 -- In the team for his work rate, the winger got away with a handball inside his own area when covering back early on. Popped up in the right place at the right time to knock home the second goal from close range.
FW Mariano, N/R -- Replaced Benzema with 15 minutes remaining, had one dangerous run forward but could not get a shot off.
FW Federico Valverde, N/R -- The 20-year-old Uruguayan got a late run in place of Modric, and almost scored his first Madrid goal with a 15-yard side-footer in added time.
FW Marco Asensio, N/R -- On for Bale for the last three minutes, with Solari still apparently looking for much more from the young Spain international.