Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo provided the perfect riposte to criticism of his away goalscoring record as his side took a giant stride towards the Champions League last eight with a 2-0 victory against Roma .
Former Manchester United attacker Ronaldo stormed out of a pre-match press conference on Tuesday after being quizzed about his failure to register away from the Santiago Bernabeu since 29 November.
The 31-year-old opened the scoring in the 57th minute after haring onto Marcelo’s pass, cutting inside with a back heel and lashing a deflected right-footed shot into the top corner of former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s net.
Ronaldo’s 33rd goal of the season and 89th career Champions League strike was added to by substitute Jese, who hit Roma on the counter-attack before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner with four minutes remaining.
Despite failing to record a shot on target in the first half of a Champions League match for the first time since May 2011, Real will take a commanding lead into the second leg on 8 March.
Belgian side Gent, meanwhile, scored two late goals to drag themselves from the brink of elimination and give themselves a fighting chance in the second leg despite losing 3-2 at home to German cup winners Wolfsburg in the night’s other last-16 tie.
Germany’s Julian Draxler netted in each half while striker Max Kruse also scored before Gent, who have never beaten a German side at home in European competition, instigated a fightback in the final 10 minutes.
An impressive strike from midfielder Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly’s header gave Gent hope of upsetting the odds and reaching the quarter finals during next month’s second leg.