Ronaldo on Target as Real Madrid Take Control Against Galatasaray

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Ronaldo on Target as Real Madrid Take Control Against Galatasaray

Jose Mourinho has never lost a Champions League quarterfinal. After watching his Real Madrid team put away Galatasaray 3-0 at fortress Bernabeu, the Special One looks set to preserve that record when the two teams reconvene in Turkey next week.

Madrid's first-leg victory was as routine as they come at this level. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain did for the visiting Turks, whose performance fell a long way short of the intensity brought by their flare-touting fans in the stands.

For Gala to advance now would take a comeback at least as bold as the one we saw in 2001, when they came from 2-0 down at halftime to beat Madrid 3-2 and send the European giants out. A repeat seems wildly unlikely, especially now that Galatasaray have moved to a shiny new stadium that has diluted the intimidation factor.

That said, there remain doubts over Madrid's defensive capabilities. Didier Drogba and Burak Yilmaz both threatened an away goal, and Mourinho's men were too often guilty of standing off and allowing opponents to advance into threatening areas. Yilmaz also had an appeal for a penalty turned down, with replays showing Sergio Ramos did indeed make contact.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Gonzalo Higuain celebrates Madrid's third goal

Instead of pointing to the spot, the referee booked Galatasaray's top scorer, who will now miss the second leg.

Madrid survived unbreached, by a combination of fortune and poor finishing, but a more clinical opponent would likely have found a way to goal. Should they advance, a more clinical opponent will arrive in time in the semifinals.

Madrid's primary argument for advancing further is in the ferocity of their attack, of course. They countered extremely well against Gala—especially in the first half—and are a team equipped to break down any that stands in their way. Whomever they face, it's hard to see Mourinho's men failing to score.

Ronaldo's opener was witness to the prosecution. Mesut Ozil worked himself space, slid Ronaldo in and the world's second-best player did the rest—lofting a chip over Fernando Muslera with the swagger of a man at the very top of his game.

Nine goals in nine Champions League games for Ronaldo says everything you need to know.

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
Galatasaray's Didier Drogba under challenge from Fabio Coentrao

That was as early as the ninth minute and it set the tone for what was to follow. Gala would have their moments—a fierce drive from Drogba that stung Diego Lopez's hands among them—but Madrid remained relatively in control throughout. 

The home side doubled their lead just shy of the half-hour mark, when Benzema took advantage of slack defending from Emmanuel Eboue at the far post to control a cross and pass a finish into the bottom corner. 

A third arrived in the 73rd minute, when substitute Higuain headed home Xabi Alonso's cross to all but send his team marching onto in the semifinals. Before that moment, Galatasaray needed something monumental; after it, they needed a miracle.

With a 3-0 advantage to take to the second leg, Mourinho's quest to win Madrid a 10th European title remains very much on track. His team are unquestionably beatable, but it will take a far more ruthless team than Galatasaray to make it happen.

 

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