Karim Benzema headed the stuttering triple European champion ahead early in the first half, but it was fortunate not to concede an equaliser before the break as the Czechs somehow failed to capitalise on three clear opportunities. Brazilian left back Marcelo got Real’s second goal with a coolly-taken dinked finish in the 55th minute and it then missed a glut of chances to extend the lead, which was cut by an ice-cool finish from Plzen’s Patrik Hrosovsky in the 78th minute. Real held on for a far-from convincing win which keeps it level with Group G leader AS Roma on six points after three games but failed to answer serious questions about its form ahead of Sunday’s ‘Clasico’ away to arch rival Barcelona. Benzema’s headed goal from a superb cross by Lucas Vazquez brought a sense of calm to a nervy Santiago Bernabeu crowd although there were howling whistles at half-time after Real had given up a third chance to the Czechs but got away with it.
Meanwhile, AS Roma’s Edin Dzeko drew level with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi at the top of this season’s scoring charts as the Italians set the pace in Group G with a 3-0 win over CSKA Moscow at the Stadio Olimpico. The striker netted twice in the first half, before setting up Cengiz Under to score the third just after the break.