Real Madrid finishes first in Group C

Robinho scored one goal and set up two more Tuesday to lead Real Madrid over Lazio 3-1 and into first place in Group C of the Champions League.

updated: December 13, 2007 19:04 IST
  • Total Shares


Robinho scored one goal and set up two more Tuesday to lead Real Madrid over Lazio 3-1 and into first place in Group C of the Champions League.

Robinho fed Julio Baptista for the first goal in the 13th minute, and Raul Gonzalez headed in the Brazilian's cross two minutes later.

Robinho ran on to Ruud van Nistelrooy's touch pass from the right of the penalty box in the 36th before poking a right-foot shot past Marco Ballotta inside the near post.

"I'm not surprised (by Robinho's performance)," Madrid coach Bernd Schuster said. "He's a great player and the truth is between his time with Brazil and with us, he is having a great season."

Goran Pandev scored a consolation goal for Lazio in the 81st, and Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas dove correctly to his left to deny Tommaso Rocchi from the penalty spot three minutes into injury time after center back Pepe was whistled for a hand ball.

Madrid won Group C with 11 points, while Lazio missed out qualifying for the UEFA Cup after finishing last with five points. Olympiakos also advanced after beating Werder Bremen 3-0.

"We've made it past the first hurdle, to make it to the next round, so I'm not going to worry about who we get (next)," Schuster said. "Whoever comes, comes. But gaining home field advantage (as group winner) is very important."

Madrid improved to 21-7 in European Cup elimination matches at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Madrid coach Bernd Schuster stuck with a similar lineup that came in off two straight league wins with Marcelo the one change at left back.

Lazio, needing to win by at least two goals to ensure a place in the knockout stage, fielded a full strength squad minus injured striker Simone Del Nero.

Van Nistelrooy missed while trying to head in Wesley Sneijder's corner in the eighth, and the hosts were lucky to stay even when Mourad Meghni redirected Rocchi's pass wide after finding himself alone in front of Casillas on the counterattack.

"We started well in the first minutes ... but they are much stronger than us," Lazio coach Delio Rossi said. "After that, we weren't able to show our quality against them."

Three minutes after Raul's header rattled off the near post, Baptista cut across the top of the area from the left and hit it inside the far post past Ballotta.

Raul scored his Champions League-leading 59th goal after getting over Cristian Ledesma to head in Robinho's cross.

Madrid was cruising while Lazio's defense was in pieces, and Raul's chip over Ballotta in the 22nd was called back for offside.

Robinho ensured Madrid finished first in its group for the first time in four years after capping Van Nistelrooy's move with his fifth European goal.

Madrid continued to pressure early in the second half, with the 43-year-old Ballotta leaping to push substitute Arjen Robben's left-foot slice out in the 54th. Ten minutes later, the Dutchman just missed high from the same spot but on the right side.

Pandev scored against Madrid for the third time in the group stage - the Macedonia striker hit both in a 2-2 draw in Rome in October - after getting to Rocchi's pass at the far post.