Cristiano Ronaldo scored another European hat-trick as Real Madrid beat Atletico 3-0 in their Champions League semi-final, first leg clash on Tuesday.
The Portugal international has now netted back-to-back trebles in the competition after also doing so against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals and put himself on level terms with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for Champions League hat-tricks (7).
Ronaldo wasted no time in putting the home side ahead, nodding home in the ninth minute from a Casemiro cross and produced a fantastic finish in the 73rd minute to double Real’s lead.
He rounded off a fine evening for himself and his club by slotting home from the middle of the box 13 minutes later to put Real in the driving seat in the tie, where they will take their 3-0 advantage into next Wednesday’s second leg at the Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Real started the game well and could have gone ahead in the seventh minute. Isco and Dani Carvajal linked up on the right before the latter poked the midfielder’s cross towards goal, only to see it pushed away by Jan Oblak. The Atleti goalkeeper did so again seconds later as Karim Benzema tried to slip home the rebound, but it was turned past the near post.
Two minutes later Ronaldo rose to put Real ahead. Casemiro lofted a great ball into the box and the 32-year-old nodded the midfielder’s delivery home.
As the half began to open up, both goalkeepers were tested. Oblak made a fine save to keep out a Raphael Varane header in the 16th minute before Keylor Navas stopped Kevin Gameiro in his tracks as the striker raced through on goal, going down low to get a strong hand to the ball.
It could have been a spectacular second for Real just before the half-hour mark as Benzema threw himself into an acrobatic overhead kick but it just went wide. Atletico went close minutes after Benzema’s acrobatic effort, Diego Godin volleyed an Antoine Griezmann cross over the bar at the back post.
Both sides made changes at the start of the second half, with Nacho replacing Dani Carvajal before the restart and Diego Simeone bringing on Fernando Torres and Nico Gaitan for Kevin Gameiro and Saul Niguez after 12 minutes.