Real Madrid found solace in the Champions League once more as a 2-0 win at Roma confirmed top spot in Group G.
The three-time reigning champions took a 47th-minute lead through Gareth Bale, who capitalised on Federico Fazio’s mistake.
That came after Cengiz Under’s woeful miss at the end of the first half and Real doubled their lead when Lucas Vazquez struck to secure top spot in the pool.
Both sides are suffering domestically. Roma lost to Udinese in Serie A last Saturday and are seventh; Real are sixth in LaLiga following a 3-0 loss to Eibar, their fifth of the season.
But both are in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite club competition. Viktoria Plzen’s earlier 2-1 win at CSKA Moscow meant both sides were through before kick-off, with top spot in Group G and a favourable last-16 seeding becoming the target.
Roma needed to beat Real by four clear goals to usurp them at the top of the pool, which was always an unlikely outcome.
Bale lined up on Madrid’s left, but the visitors struggled to assert themselves in the first half.
A Luka Modric foul on Stephan El Shaarawy led to the winger’s substitution, with Justin Kluivert, the son of former Barcelona striker Patrick, on in his place.
Patrik Schick shot straight at Thibaut Courtois from an Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick as Roma created few chances.
The best of the first half came in stoppage time, when Under missed from close range.
Nicolo Zaniolo’s cross from the left beat Courtois and Sergio Ramos and, with the goal gaping, Under contrived to send the ball over the bar from four yards out.
The miss was to prove even more costly when Bale netted his 20th goal in 58 Champions League appearances, punishing a poor clearance from Robin Olsen and a misjudged header from Fazio.
The Welshman was loitering with intent when Olsen sent his kick high into the air and Fazio’s header went only as far as Bale, who rolled a left-footed shot in.
Olsen denied Bale with the Welshman one on one soon afterwards and the former Tottenham forward next spurned another opportunity.
Madrid’s second came on the counter attack following a Roma corner.
Karim Benzema fed Toni Kroos and Modric crossed from the left towards Benzema. The France striker headed the ball down for Vazquez to finish.
Olsen denied Marcelo at the end of another Real counter before next saving from Benzema.
Substitute Ante Coric had an effort blocked by Raphael Varane and Kolarov saw a shot saved by Courtois, but Roma could not find a reply.
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