The Portuguese international continued his excellent form this season, scoring twice and winning the penalty that would produce the third Real goal on Wednesday night. After hitting a double in his Champions League debut with Los Blancos, Ronaldo's continued excellent play has a lot to do with Real Madrid's flawless start to the season. Real's 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu against Marseille makes it seven wins out of seven matches thus far this campaign.
Sergio Ramos was back in the starting lineup after leaving Saturday's game as a precautionary measure. Causing the usual chaos offensively, Ramos also contributed to Real's finest defensive effort this season. The back line, which has been lethargic and unorganized at points, came together to look not only improved but almost sharp.
That is not to say that Marseille did not have their chances; however, the overall improvement in quality of the defensive line's play was evident. Closing open space quickly, clearing loose balls in the box, Marseille had to work hard for their small number of opportunities. Iker Casillas confidently turned away those few chances that were created, mostly by a creative Mamadou Niag upfront. Injuries and suspensions have prevented the back four from starting the year together, but if the form they showed on Wednesday continues, Real Madrid will certainly be serious contenders for more than one trophy this season.
Madrid controlled the game from the opening kickoff, creating multiple chances that forced Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda to be on top form. A scoreless first half did not justify the dominating play from the boys in the white shirts. Ronaldo struck well from distance a couple times, only to be denied, while Karim Benzema found himself with excellent opportunities at goal. Thirteen minutes into the second half, Ronaldo would hit home the first goal of the match. Six minutes later, the home side's lead had tripled to three goals to nil.
Cristiano Ronaldo may have been the name on the score sheet but it was the remarkable ball from Pepe that found Ronaldo in stride, the Portuguese international having to nothing more to do than tap it past a leaping Mandanda for the first. Within minutes Ronaldo would again have possession of the ball. Weaving his way creatively through defenders, Ronaldo never gave up on his control and was eventually fouled in the area as he prepared to cross.
The tackle from Souleymane Diawara was aggressive and produced the Senegalese international's second yellow, setting up Kaka from the spot and reducing the French side to 10 men. A wonderfully executed give and go between Kaka and Benzema put the ball on the Frenchman's foot with the keeper to beat. Opting to cross, the French international hit Cristiano Ronaldo in space, allowing him to easily redirect home to seal his double.
In short it was an impressive effort from Real Madrid against the French runners-up from last year on Wednesday night. While some doubts had been raised in the early week about the efficiency and practicality of Pellegrini's rotational system (many pointing to an obligation to play Raul as a concern for down the line), the team that was on the pitch last night played as one fluid unit.
Most importantly the defence finally put together a performance worthy of writing about. With a world-class keeper like Iker Casillas behind the back line, the solid, limiting play demonstrated last night makes Real Madrid a very difficult team to beat.