Thu, May 04, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Ronaldo hat-trick puts Real in control

DOMINATION CONTINUES:The Portuguese headed his first from a deflected cross before Filipe Luis and Lucas Vazquez provided the opportunities for the second two

AFP, MADRID

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, second left, heads in a goal against Atletico Madrid in their Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo proved to be Atletico Madrid’s Champions League destroyer once more with a hat-trick as Real Madrid took a commanding 3-0 semi-final, first-leg lead on Tuesday.

Ronaldo extended his lead as the all-time top scorer in Madrid derby matches, taking his tally to 21, and put Real firmly on course to defend their title in the final in Cardiff on June 3.

The Portuguese rewarded a bright Real start by heading home Casemiro’s deflected cross after just 10 minutes.

Ronaldo then smashed home from just inside the area and turned home Lucas Vazquez’s cross in the final 20 minutes as Real continued their domination of Atletico, having eliminated them in the Champions League for the past three seasons.

“The team was tremendous. I scored the goals, but the team was phenomenal from start to finish,” Ronaldo said. “We have a good advantage, but the tie isn’t over yet.”

The sides meet again for the second leg on Wednesday next week.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone told his side to forget their latest derby demolition and hope for a miracle at the last European match at their Estadio Vicente Calderon next week.

“We need to forget about this game,” Simeone said. “It seems impossible, but it is football and football has these unexpected things that make it marvelous.”

“Until the last drip of hope is gone, we will give it everything we have,” Simeone said.

Real needed a stoppage-time equalizer en route to beating Atletico in the 2014 final, scored a late winner in the quarter-finals a year later and edged last season’s final between the two in a penalty shoot-out.

However, there was far more a gulf between the sides this time round.

Real piled on the pain in the opening stages for the 4,000 visiting away fans and could have killed the tie in the opening half hour.

Atletico were handed a lucky escape on seven minutes when Jan Oblak parried Dani Carvajal’s effort at the end of a careering run and the Slovenian recovered to also turn behind Karim Benzema’s follow-up effort.

There was no let off three minutes later, though, as Atletico failed to clear a corner and Casemiro’s bouncing cross looped up for Ronaldo to power home a header.

Oblak kept Atletico alive in the moments that followed with a brilliant save from Raphael Varane’s header and a more comfortable stop from Isco.

However, at the other end, Keylor Navas rescued Real from conceding a vital away goal when he got a touch on the ball as Kevin Gameiro tried to round him when clean through on goal.

The majority of the efforts continued to rain down on Oblak’s goal, with Luka Modric drilling a shot from the edge of the area just wide before Benzema acrobatically turned a Ronaldo cross just over the bar.

The only negative news of the night for Real was an injury to rightback Dani Carvajal just before halftime as he pulled up with a muscle problem that looks set to keep him out of the second leg.

Clear-cut chances were far harder to come by after halftime as Atletico toiled to create, while Real sat on their lead waiting for the chance to counterattack.

However, Real got a slice of luck to go with their extra quality.

The ball rebounded up perfectly off the heels of Filipe Luis for Ronaldo to blast high past Oblak.

Ronaldo completed his second hat-trick against Atletico this season four minutes from time when Lucas Vazquez’s cutback picked out the four-time World Player of the Year to slot home from close range.

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