Auxerre undone by decisive Di Maria

The winger volleyed in Mesut Ozil’s cross nine minutes from time to

settle what had looked set to be a frustrating match for the

Spanish side. And Marcelo’s block from Ireneusz Jelen ensured there

was no late twist and Real could celebrate a second straight

victory – and clean sheet – in the group. The visitors started

well, Auxerre keeper Olivier Sorin parrying Cristiano Ronaldo’s

early drive before Lassana Diarra lashed wide. The France

midfielder had another effort blocked by defender Kamel Chafni and

Sami Khedira failed to get enough purchase on his header from the

resulting Xabi Alonso corner. Gonzalo Higuain had a close-range

effort blocked by Stephane Grichting as Madrid’s dominance

continued, and Ronaldo was off target with a volley from the edge

of the box. Marcelo’s foul on Dariusz Dudka handed Auxerre a rare

opportunity, but Benoit Pedretti’s free-kick was headed wide by

Delvin Ndinga. Madrid reasserted their dominance, though, and

Higuain and Diarra flashed shots off target before Sorin was forced

to repel Marcelo’s volley. Ronaldo was booked for handball and then

shot over, before Auxerre launched a pre-interval salvo. Dudka

smashed a free-kick into the wall before Pedretti’s effort was

fumbled by Iker Casillas, with the French side unable to latch onto

the rebound. Dudka drew another save from the Spain goalkeeper but

the interval arrived with no score. Auxerre introduced fit-again

star striker Jelen for Roy Contout before the restart and, after

Alvaro Arbeloa headed over for the visitors, the Pole dragged a

shot wide from 20 yards. Ronaldo then came to the fore as Madrid

sought a breakthrough, threatening three times in five minutes.

Sorin held his fierce drive and then parried away an equally

well-struck free-kick for a corner. The Portugal star also met

Alonso’s flag-kick, but his header was over the crossbar. Real boss

Jose Mourinho sent on summer signings Ozil and Di Maria in a bid to

break the game open, and the two substitutes combined to crucial

effect in the 81st minute. Germany World Cup star Ozil delivered

the ball from the right and Argentina star Di Maria met the cross

with a volley which flashed past Sorin to break the deadlock.

Casillas held Pedretti’s free-kick and Marcelo blocked Jelen’s

injury-time effort as Auxerre were unable to deny Madrid the

points.