MADRID - Real Madrid striker Raul extended his Champions League goals tally to 64 with a double in a 3-0 victory over Zenit St Petersburg in Group H on Wednesday which handed new coach Juande Ramos a winning start. Raul, the leading Champions League scorer, struck midway through first half following an error from visiting goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev. Arjen Robben doubled the advantage just after the re-start and set up Raul for his second soon after. Although Zenit twice hit the woodwork late on, they rarely threatened the home goal. Real had already qualified for the knockout phase and go through as group runners-up behind Juventus. After a poor run of form, a victory with a clean sheet will give Real a much needed lift ahead of Saturday's trip to face arch-rivals Barcelona in the Primera Liga. "I have seen some positive things and it was good not to concede a goal," Ramos said. "The players are keen to turn things round, just like the fans and the board. They want to improve quickly and it is in their hands to do so." For his first line up Ramos, who replaced Bernd Schuster on Tuesday, went with the same side that had lost 4-3 at home to Sevilla on Sunday, with the exception of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who was rested in favour of Jerzy Dudek. That result had sparked the sacking of Schuster and Real's players appeared keen to put the record straight, dominating from the outset. Ramos was a constant presence in the technical area, pointing and barking out instructions, and his captain soon delivered him his first goal. Rafael van der Vaart's looping cross from the left was a simple catch for Malafeev but under no pressure he fumbled the ball on his line, and the lurking Raul prodded home from close range. The Russians offered little by way of a response and just after the restart the lively Robben sprinted clear to finish with a neat lob that brought the half-full Bernabeu to their feet. Seven minutes later, Robben cut in from the right and passed low into the centre for Raul, who lifted the ball over the advancing Malafeev with a deft touch. Zenit had a rare sight of goal after 65 minutes but Dudek managed to deflect substitute Viktor Fayzulin's shot onto the bar. Another Zenit substitute Fatih Tekke headed against the bar soon after, but the nine-times European champions always threatened on the break. Zenit coach Dick Advocaat said: "There is no need for me to say so much because after a game like this it's better to keep your mouth shut and say thank you very much and go away."
10 December 2008
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