Geneva: Real Madrid managed to win easily in the Uefa Champions League without Cristiano Ronaldo. So did Juventus, after their superstar signing was tearfully sent off within 30 minutes.
Three-time defending champions Madrid eased to a 3-0 win over Roma on Wednesday, with Isco scoring from the kind of free-kick only Ronaldo got to take in his nine years with the club.
Ronaldo, making his Juventus debut in a competition he has won five times, also had a new experience — getting a red card against Valencia for tangling with Jeison Murillo.
Seemingly frustrated that Murillo went to ground too easily, Ronaldo reached down to tug or ruffle the defender’s hair.
German referee Felix Brych did not have access to a video review but showed a red card after consulting his assistant behind the goal.
“I can only say that VAR would have helped the referee make the right decision,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said afterwards. Uefa are yet to approve the technology in Europe’s premier club tournament.
It was Ronaldo’s first sending off in 154 games in the competition and left him in tears.
Still, Juventus went on to win 2-0, scoring twice from penalties despite designated spot-kick taker Ronaldo not being there. Miralem Pjanic scored both times.
It could have been tricky for Madrid. No Ronaldo on the field, no Zinedine Zidane in the dugout, and facing Roma, a semi-finalist last season.
But it was business as usual for the 13-time European champions under new coach Julen Lopetegui.
Isco, Gareth Bale — who seemed sure to leave if Zidane stayed — and Mariano Diaz got the goals.
Bale finished off an accurate pass by Luka Modric, and goalkeeper Keylor Navas kept a clean sheet after being preferred to new signing Thibaut Courtois.
Also in Group G, CSKA Moscow trailed 2-0 at half-time, but a stoppage time penalty from Nikola Vlasic made it 2-2 at Czech champion Viktoria Plzen.
A troubled opening half-hour for Juventus in Valencia saw Mario Mandzukic and Sami Khedira miss clear chances before Ronaldo left the field in tears.
Just before half-time, Joao Cancelo hit the crossbar with a shot and was then fouled by a high boot to the face while chasing the rebound.
Miralem Pjanic converted that penalty kick, and scored again six minutes into the second half when Murillo was penalised for a foul.
There was a third penalty in stoppage-time, but Juve goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny saved Daniel Parejo’s kick to preserve the 2-0 win.
Renato Sanches scored Bayern’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Benfica after Robert Lewandowski got Bayern’s early opener.
Also in Group E, Ajax marked their return after a four-year absence to join Madrid as the only home teams winning on Wednesday, also by 3-0.
In the Johan Cruyff Arena, Ajax dispatched AEK Athens with the help of two goals from Argentina defender Nicolas Tagliafico.