PARIS – Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace in his return from suspension for Real Madrid, as Tottenham Hotspur ended their Wembley jinx and Liverpool was held in its Champions League comeback on Wednesday.
Real has sorely missed its Portuguese superstar as he serves a five-match domestic ban for pushing a referee.
But he wasted no time in making his towering presence felt against APOEL Nicosia, scoring after just 12 minutes from Gareth Bale’s low cross, and then doubling his tally from the penalty spot before Sergio Ramos’ overhead kick rounded off the cozy 3-0 win.
Ronaldo has now struck 12 times in his last six Champions League games.
“He is the best in the world. We know he will always score goals,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.
“With a bit more luck today he could have scored four. Cristiano has so many goals in him and we feel it.”
“Hopefully he stays in form. You can’t question the levels he reaches every year,” added Ramos.
The titleholders top Group H with Tottenham, which ended its woeful Wembley run with an impressive Harry Kane-inspired 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.
Already scarred by damaging Wembley defeats in the Champions League and F.A. Cup semifinals last term, Tottenham had lost to Chelsea and drawn with Burnley this season, sparking alarmist talk that it was jinxed at the hallowed north London venue.
But, after losing eight of their previous 12 matches at Wembley, Kane’s predatory finishing ensured Tottenham finally enjoyed a night to remember in its temporary lodgings.
Son Heung-min’s first goal of the season put Tottenham ahead early on with Andriy Yarmolenko conjuring a sublime equalizer.
Kane, who scored twice in Saturday’s win at Everton, restored Tottenham’s advantage before the interval and wrapped up the victory with his second goal after halftime.
The only blemish for Spurs was a late sending off for a second bookable offense for Jan Vertonghen, who swung his forearm into Mario Gotze’s face.
“It was so important to win, we are so happy. We increased our level in the second half and were very clinical,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said.
“It is more than three points. The team is more mature now. Harry Kane was fantastic.”
At Anfield, Roberto Firmino’s first-half penalty miss proved costly for Liverpool as Joaquin Correa scored a dramatic equalizer to grab Sevilla a 2-2 draw.