Football: Valverde’s strike earns Real a narrow Champions League win over Leipzig

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MADRID – Late strikes from Fede Valverde and Marco Asensio ensured Real Madrid maintained their 100 per cent start to the Champions League campaign with a 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig.

It threatened to be a frustrating night for the 14-time record winners and defending champions until Valverde finally provided the breakthrough, continuing his fine recent form and celebrating emphatically in front of a relieved Santiago Bernabeu after scoring in the 80th minute.

Substitute Asensio then struck home the second in stoppage time after Toni Kroos fired a short free-kick towards the edge of the box. That wrapped up the win and kept Madrid top of Group F with six points, ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk with four.

The win means Madrid have won all eight games played this season, but that record was under threat until Valverde intervened.

“With the shot he has, I told him that if he wasn’t able to score 10 goals a season, I would break his coaching license. His foot is a rock!” joked Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“He is not only dynamic and energetic, but reads situations well and is intelligent.”

Leipzig had tested Thibaut Courtois early on when Christopher Nkunku broke the right flank and fired in a shot from a tight angle. At the other end, Rodrygo dragged a shot clear of the near post.

The Brazilian striker, playing as a false nine in the absence of injured talisman Karim Benzema, was chosen over Eden Hazard and Asensio for the role after impressing against Real Mallorca last weekend in La Liga.

There were half chances at both ends for Timo Werner and Eduardo Camavinga, before the best chance of the first half came to Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger, who headed a header well wide from a dangerous position in the surface.

Ancelotti’s switch pays off

Luka Modric fell under heavy pressure in the box shortly before the break but his appeals were dismissed, much to the chagrin of increasingly frustrated Madrid fans.

After scoring 16 goals in their last five games, home fans expected more creativity and manager Carlo Ancelotti took action by sending Asensio for midfielder Camavinga.

The striker has been whistled by parts of the Bernabeu after showing his frustration at not getting more game time this season at the side of the pitch in the win over Mallorca.

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