Champions League - Real Madrid score three in dominant display

Champions League quarter-final first leg, Bernabeu - Real Madrid 3 (Ronaldo 9, Benzema 29, Higuain 73) Galatasaray 0

Serie A - Benzema-Milan link denied

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Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with Karim Benzema and team-mates (Reuters)

Real Madrid produced a commanding display to beat Galatasaray 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at the Bernabeu.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in just the ninth minute as he lifted a sublime shot beyond Fernando Muslera in the Galatasaray goal, and 20 minutes later Karim Benzema’s clinical finish saw the hosts go into the break with a clear advantage.

It has been 11 years since Real Madrid last won the Champions League, but Mourinho will be confident of reaching the semi-finals for the seventh time in his coaching career after substitute Gonzalo Higuain added a third late on to give the Spanish giants a three-goal cushion ahead of the second leg.

Mourinho was reunited with two of his former players as the Turkish club’s starting XI featured Didier Drogba and playmaker Wesley Sneijder, while Diego Lopez retained his place in goal for Real Madrid with Iker Casillas omitted from the squad altogether.

Galatasaray have never won in Spain in the Champions League, and it was the hosts who dictated the play early on with Benzema heading wide from a dinked cross from Angel Di Maria in just the third minute.

Six minutes later the hosts were in front as Ronaldo latched on to gorgeous through ball from Mesut Ozil and produced an exquisite dinked finish as Muslera charged off his line. It was his fourth goal in successive Champions League matches with Galatasaray now having failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 13 away games in the competition.

Galatasaray gave their hosts a scare two minutes after, however, as Drogba swivelled on the edge of the Real box and fired a fierce shot just over the crossbar, almost punishing the hosts for affording him too much time and space in a dangerous area of the field.

Manchester United supporters would have been left bewildered in the 20th minute as a wild high boot from Benzema left Semih Kaya sprawled on the ground with a clumsy challenge that was very similar to that of Nani’s in the previous round that earned a red card. On this occasion, no card was brandished.

Real’s pressure was incessant in the final third, and it was Benzema who pounced to double their lead in the 29th minute after Emmanuel Eboue and Kaya contrived to fail to deal with Michael Essien’s cross, affording the Frenchman his fourth goal in seven matches in the competition as he slammed the ball home.

Two minutes later, the visitors saw their vociferous appeals for a penalty dismissed by referee Svein Oddvar Moen of Norway as Sami Khedira appeared to handle a loose ball before he and Essien combined to clear inside the Real box. Drogba led the complaints in vain.

Despite an abundance of the ball in attacking areas, Real continued to offer their visitors chances, and Eboue almost made amends for his sloppy defending as he played a slick one-two with Drogba before driving a low shot on target with Lopez forced to make a smart save.

The ineffectual Sneijder was hauled off against his former club at half-time with Gokhan Zan introduced, and the start of the second half was a scrappy affair with a spate of niggly fouls frustrating both managers.

When a clear-cut chance was finally carved out after Di Maria sprinted in behind the Galatasaray back line, the Argentine placed a tame shot straight at a relieved Muslera, who was able to gather comfortably. Mourinho was furious on the touchline as a glorious opportunity to add a crucial third was squandered.

But a third goal did arrive for the hosts in the 73rd minute as substitute Higuain pounced to head beyond Muslera from Xabi Alonso's pinpoint free-kick delivery with a complete lack of marking gifting the forward all the space he needed to create a three-goal cushion. The third goal left the visitors understandably dispirited.

A miserable evening for Galatasaray was compounded as Burak Yilmaz, who had unsuccessfully attempted to score for a seventh successive match in this year’s competition, went down theatrically under a challenge from Sergio Ramos and was perhaps harshly shown the yellow card that rules him out of the second leg in Istanbul on April 9. Replays showed that contact was made, and Mourinho was left to enjoy a perfect evening for his side.


Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid): The German midfielder dictated the play for his side in the final third and provided a stunning through ball for the opening goal. He deservedly departed to a standing ovation late in the match.


REAL MADRID: Diego Lopez 6, Essien 7, Sergio Ramos 6, Varane 7, Fabio Coentrao 6, Alonso 7, Khedira 7, Di Maria 7, Ozil 8, Ronaldo 8, Benzema 7. Subs: Pepe 6, Modric 6, Higuain 7.

GALATASARAY: Muslera 6, Eboue 5, Kaya 6, Nounkeu 5, Riera 6, Altintop 5, Felipe Melo 6, Sneijder 5, Inan 7, Burak Yilmaz 5, Drogba 6. Subs: Zan 6, Bulut 6, Amrabat 6.


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