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Real off to winning start

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Real off to winning start

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PARIS (AP) – Real Madrid started the defence of their Champions League crown with an emphatic 5-1 victory over Basel today, while Liverpool celebrated their return to Europe’s top club competition with a dramatic 2-1 win against Bulgarian side Ludogorets.

Madrid’s win should end talk of crisis following a poor start to the club’s domestic season.

Goals by Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and a Basel own-goal secured the ten-time champions’ victory in Group B.

Five years after their last involvement in the Champions League, Liverpool needed a penalty from Steven Gerrard in the third minute of added time – just two minutes after Ludogorets looked to have snatched a draw – to earn all three points.

Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund beat Arsenal 2-0 and last season’s finalist Atletico Madrid lost 3-2 at Olympiakos.

Madrid’s win was much easier as Carlo Ancelotti’s players silenced their critics with a beautiful display of free-flowing football as they turned their attention away from their domestic woes.

Madrid lost to Atletico in the Spanish Super Cup last month before Ancelotti’s side collapsed 4-2 at Real Sociedad in the league and followed it up with a 2-1 loss to Atletico at home last Saturday.

Against Basel, the Merengue played with pace and were spectacular up front, despite their defence looking anything but solid.

Mario Balotelli got his first goal for Liverpool in the 82nd minute before Ludogorets, a side who had not won a game in UEFA competition before last season, equalised through Dani Abalo’s goal.

Liverpool were then awarded a penalty when goalkeeper Milan Borjan brought down substitute Javier Manquillo and Gerrard slotted home from the spot.

In Group A, former Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez ended his European goal drought as he scored twice in a 2-0 win over Malmo, for his first goal in the competition since April 2009.

Monaco won against the run of the play with a 1-0 win over Leverkusen in Group C courtesy of Joao Moutinho’s goal, while Benfica’s 51-match unbeaten home record in all competition came to an end.

In Group D, Borussia Dortmund strikers Ciro Immobile and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored either side of half-time to give their side a 2-0 with over Arsenal.

Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz scored in stoppage time to snatch a 1-1 draw against Anderlecht in the group’s other match.