Real Madrid took the advantage in the first-leg of the last-16 Champions League tie against Roma as they came away from the Stadio Olimpico with a 2-0 win.
Both sides are under new management since progressing from the group stages, and it was Zinedine Zidane who triumphed in the Italian capital with the goals coming from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jese Rodriguez.
The Serie A side started without a recognised striker, but carved out the first real chance of the tie when full-back Alessandro Florenzi made a darting run into the right channel, slid a ball through for Diego Perotti who pulled it back for Stephan El Shaarawy, but the winger could only fire over the bar.
The visitors nearly took the lead just after the half-hour mark, as Marcelo’s looping volley beat Wojciech Szczesny, but also beat the post.
Los Blancos continued to pressure Roma for the remainder of the half, with Florenzi and Kostas Manolas making vital blocks on several occasions.
With nearly an hour gone, Zidane’s men finally broke the deadlock. Marcelo received the ball on the left wing, slotting Ronaldo through, and the Champions League’s all-time top goalscorer cut onto his favoured right foot and his shot deflected off of Florenzi and into the net.
Spalletti’s team continued to look for an equaliser, with both William Vainqueur and substitute Edin Dzeko going close. but they were caught on the counter with five minutes to go, as Lucas Digne backed off from Jese, who punished him by finding the far corner.
If Roma are to qualify, they must overturn a two-goal deficit in the away leg – a feat that’s never been achieved in the Champions League.
Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up Wolfsburg nearly threw away a three-goal lead against Gent, but managed to leave Belgium with a 3-2 advantage.
The hosts were massive underdogs heading into the tie, being the first ever Belgian side to advance to the round of 16, but ended the match with over 59% possession.
Despite this, it was the German outfit who struck the first blow. Just before half-time, Julian Draxler raced past Thomas Foket on the left wing, played a one-two with Vierinha, cut inside and slotted the ball past Matz Sels to put the Wolves ahead.
Ten minutes after the interval, Draxler doubled the visitors’ lead. Renato Neto was sloppy in possession, gifting the ball to the World Cup winner and he punished them with ease, chipping the ball over the helpless Sels.
Just five minutes later, the tie had seemingly been put to bed. Christian Trasch sprinted past Moses Simon on the right wing, crossing for Max Kruse, who volleyed home leaving Wolfsburg with a three-goal advantage.
Gent gave their visitors a nervy final ten minutes, though. Sven Kums got one back for the home side, skipping past Andre Schurrle and unleashing a shot that was too hot for Koen Casteels to handle.
Foket and Brecht Dejaegere went close for the Belgian champions, but it was Kalifa Coulibaly who found the hosts’ second. Kenny Saief curled in a cross from the left flank, and the Mali international got in behind Dante to head past Casteels, setting up an interesting return leg in Germany.
The second legs of both ties will take place on March 8.