The Ronaldo show! - CR7 leads Real Madrid to big UCL win ... Monaco, Juve clash today
MADRID, Spain (AP):
Another impressive performance by Cristiano Ronaldo has left Real Madrid on the verge of another Champions League final.
Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to reach 400 goals with Madrid and lead the defending champions to a commanding 3-0 win over city rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal yesterday.
He scored with a header in the 10th minute, with a strike into the top corner in the 73rd and a close-range shot in the 86th to give Madrid a comfortable lead going into next week's second leg at Atletico's Vicente Calderon Stadium.
Monaco host Juventus in the first leg of the other semi-final today.
"We played a great match," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "It's not easy to score three times against such a difficult opponent and keep a clean sheet."
The result left Atletico close to yet another disappointing elimination against the cross-town rivals, following defeats in the Champions League in the last three seasons.
"We're going to try and do something practically impossible next week," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "We're Atletico Madrid and maybe, just maybe, we can do it."
Madrid, which are looking to reach their third final in four seasons, were in control from the start at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and took advantage of Ronaldo's impressive form. He had scored five in the two legs of the quarterfinals against Bayern Munich, including a hat-trick in the second leg at the Bernabeu.
"The team was amazing, it was a complete match," said Ronaldo, who reached the 400-goal milestone in his 389th game with Madrid. "We played well from start to finish."
He opened the scoring yesterday after Atletico's defence failed to fully clear a cross into the area. Midfielder Casemiro sent the ball back in with a bouncing shot and Ronaldo got ahead of defender Stefan Savic to nod it past Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Ronaldo, Madrid's all-time scoring leader, added to the lead after Atletico defender Filipe Luis lost the ball in a challenge with the Portugal star, who entered the area and fired a right-foot shot past Oblak into the upper corner.
He scored his 10th Champions League goal of the season with a low shot from inside the area after a pass by Lucas Vazquez. Ronaldo now has 103 goals in the Champions League, not counting one he scored in the qualifiers, which is three more than Atletico have scored since the new format was created in 1992.