Isco's perfect free-kick paved the way for Real Madrid to start their latest Champions League defence with a 3-0 home win against Roma, with Gareth Bale and Mariano Diaz also on target.
Madrid are aiming to win the tournament for the fourth year in a row and Julen Lopetegui's side cruised to a comfortable Group G victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Isco took set-piece duties following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, and on the same night his former team-mate was sent off against Valencia, the Spain international whipped in a superb strike from 25 yards just before the break.
And Bale, scorer of a brace in Madrid's defeat of Liverpool in last season's final, made sure of the points with a placed finish after racing through on goal from Luka Modric's pass, with substitute Mariano going on to add a third in stoppage time.
Bale had a great chance to open the scoring in the fourth minute, but he rifled wide after collecting an excellent lofted pass from Toni Kroos, then Robin Olsen brilliantly denied Isco.
Kroos and Bale wasted further chances but while Olsen showed off his acrobatics to tip over a Sergio Ramos header he was helpless as Madrid took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Daniele De Rossi brought down Isco and the Spain star curled a brilliant free-kick into the top-left corner, Olsen seemingly deceived by the strike.
Keylor Navas was selected in goal rather than Thibaut Courtois and he parried away a drive from Cengiz Under, with Bale's deflected shot then bouncing back off the crossbar.
But the Wales star would not be denied again when Modric sent him clear, Bale arrowing a shot home with his trusty left boot.
Substitute Marco Asensio almost added a late third with a delightful no-look finish, but Mariano did wrap up the scoring in the first minute of added time with a fantastic turn and strike into the top-right corner on his first appearance since returning from Lyon.
What does it mean: No Ronaldo, no problem
For much of the first half Madrid missed their talisman as they failed to convert chances, but Isco, Bale and Mariano stepped up to deliver three points for Lopetegui in his first Champions League match in charge. That Ronaldo was dismissed as Juventus won away to Valencia will not have gone unnoticed in Madrid. Roma will still expect to qualify, though, as Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow are ordinary opposition.
Pat on the back: Isco the inspiration
It is fair to say Isco would certainly have not been given the chance to take the free-kick he scored had Ronaldo been on the pitch. But the Spain star justified stepping up with an unstoppable strike that was almost a carbon copy of an effort by Lionel Messi in Barcelona's defeat of PSV on Tuesday.
Boot up the backside: No platform from Dzeko
Starting up front alone was a tough assignment for Edin Dzeko and he did not get a lot of support from the other attackers in the Roma team. But the striker, who had scored in each of his last five appearances in the Champions League, did not hold the ball up for his side, which was surely the minimum expected of him by coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
Key Opta stats:
1 - Isco Alarcon scored his very first direct free-kick goal in the Champions League with his first attempt in the competition. Magic. pic.twitter.com/AFLYN0WS2k— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 19, 2018
- Roma have lost five of their last seven Champions League games against Real Madrid (2W).
- Roma are winless in their last six Champions League away games (1D 5L), conceding at least two goals per match in that period.
- Roma fired their most shots (13) without scoring a goal in a Champions League match since December 2015 (v Bate Borisov).
- Roma conceded their most shots (30) in a single Champions League game since March 2016 (v Real Madrid).
- Luka Modric has delivered at least an assist in each of last seven Champions League tournaments.
Madrid are at home to Espanyol in LaLiga on Saturday, while Roma are at Bologna on the following day in Serie A. The Italians will hope for a better result when they host Plzen when the Champions League returns, with Madrid heading to Moscow to play CSKA.
|I was in a different headspace – Hamilton revels in Austin pole|
|Barcelona can cope without Messi – Pique|
|Allegri: Juventus abandoned Genoa clash|
|Sale: Hospital visit was because of belly button ring|
|Valverde accepts Barcelona will miss Messi|
|No Messi or Ronaldo in El Clasico for first time since 2007|
|Barcelona have not won a Clasico without Messi since his debut|
|Ramos calls for Real Madrid unity after latest loss piles pressure on Lopetegui|
|Hamilton has title in sights after storming to Austin pole|
|Inter, El Clasico and more - the games Messi will miss with broken arm|
|End of Messi-Ronaldo duel good for LaLiga - Simeone|
|Messi out of Clasico with fractured arm|
|Awesome Ashton marks Sale bow with hat-trick|
|Klopp hopes for positive Henderson prognosis amid Liverpool injury issues|
|Benitez ´convinced´ Newcastle can survive despite seventh defeat|
|Barcelona 4 Sevilla 2: Messi injured but champions go top|
|Kovac relieved by Bayern´s timely victory|
|Strasbourg 2 Monaco 1: Sy howler and Grandsir red card cost Henry in first match|
|Leicester City defender Chilwell signs new six-year contract|
|PSG´s Tuchel hopes Verratti and Di Maria can face Napoli|
|Liverpool star Salah had no fear during scoring drought|
|Alonso´s 2019 plans not damaged by McLaren´s IndyCar decision|
|Edinburgh outclass troubled Toulon, Wasps and Bath play out thrilling draw|
|Barca concern as Messi substituted with worrying arm injury|
|Howe: South coast derby draw a fair result|
|Our heads were in Manchester – Allegri left fuming at Juventus´ loss of focus|
|Derby County 2 Sheffield United 1: Marriott blunts Blades with 77th-minute winner|
|We have so many problems – Jokanovic alarmed by Fulham defensive woes|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Liverpool 1: Salah snaps winless streak|
|Pellegrini ruing injuries after Yarmolenko hurts ankle|
|Villarreal 1 Atletico Madrid 1: Simeone´s side denied LaLiga top spot|
|Gracia: Not easy to dominate Wolves like that|
|Isner´s Finals hopes hindered by Stockholm defeat|
|Dyche incredulous at refereeing decisions in Man City thrashing|
|Juventus 1 Genoa 1: Champions´ winning run ends despite record Ronaldo goal|
|´Fantastic´ Lamela urged to find consistency by Pochettino|
|You don´t want to lose any players - Young speaks out on Wade NFL speculation|
|Championship Review: Smith gets off to a winning start, Leeds beaten|
|Guardiola hails extraordinary Fernandinho after Burnley drubbing|
|Pochettino lauds Lloris as one of world´s best after West Ham heroics|
|Paris Saint-Germain 5 Amiens 0: Ten wins in a row for PSG as Neymar rests|
|Cristiano Ronaldo nets record 400th league goal|
|Marcelo backing beleaguered Lopetegui despite Madrid slump|
|Garcia dazzles to hit the front at shortened Valderrama Masters|
|Cardiff City 4 Fulham 2: Paterson gets Bluebirds off the mark|
|Newcastle United 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 1: Benitez´s men bottom after dismal defeat|
|West Ham 0 Tottenham 1: In-form Lamela settles London derby|
|Manchester City 5 Burnley 0: De Bruyne returns in comfortable win|
|Wolves 0 Watford 2: Capoue and Pereyra turn form book on its head|
|Bournemouth 0 Southampton 0: Howe´s side stifled by Saints|
|Prove you´re crazy about Inter - Spalletti rallies players ahead of Milan derby|
|Wolfsburg 1 Bayern Munich 3: Lewandowski leads Kovac out of trouble|
|Goerges betters Bencic to clinch Luxembourg title|
|Morgan wants more from ´rusty´ England despite series win|
|Sarri says sorry after touchline bust-up overshadows Chelsea´s late escape|
|Chelsea draw an ´awful´ result for excellent United, says Mourinho|
|The Chelsea assistant that angered Mourinho - Who is Marco Ianni?|
|Steve Kerr supports Colin Kaepernick: ´I think he deserves a chance to play´|
|Lopetegui ´more motivated than ever´ amid Real Madrid sack reports|
|That´s football – Rudiger shrugs off late Ianni-Mourinho fracas|
|AC Milan´s improved mentality could be difference against Inter - Gattuso|
|Emotional Kasatkina comes back from the brink to win Kremlin Cup|
|Forget it, it´s over - Mourinho accepts apology over touchline row|
|Mourinho in furious bust-up with Chelsea staff after late equaliser|
|Chelsea 2 Manchester United 2: Barkley strike denies Mourinho|
|Raptors star Kawhi Leonard: Too early for MVP chants|
|WTA Finals 2018: Profiling the ´elite eight´|
|Cipriani sent off and facing ban for high tackle|
|Real Madrid 1 Levante 2: Lopetegui on the brink as abysmal run continues|
|Warriors coach Kerr: Jerebko ´one of us´ after game-winning tip-in|