Real Madrid would make things more interesting than they needed to be, but Los Blancos would move on to the Champions League semifinals despite losing to Galatasaray on Tuesday, 3-2, after winning 5-3 on aggregate.
Los Blancos would all but end the contest within the first 10 minutes. Sami Khedira would find space on the right side of the box and fizz a centering feed over to Cristiano Ronaldo, who did what he does best and sent the ball into the back of the net.
That goal would not only give Real Madrid a 4-0 lead in aggregate but also give Los Blancos an away goal, meaning Galatasaray would have to win 5-1 to advance. In other words, Real Madrid had signed, sealed and delivered a spot in Champions League semifinals.
Real Madrid would nearly score the next goal in the 24th minute after a Galatasaray turnover, as Ronaldo would set up Angel Di Maria in the box with a lovely backheel pass. Di Maria's flick on goal was brilliantly saved by Fernando Muslera, however, and the Turkish side would survive the ensuing corner.
With an all but insurmountable lead, Real Madrid settled into a steady pace of play and Galatasaray could never quite probe the Los Blancos defense. The game went into the half with Real Madrid holding on to its one-goal lead.
Shockingly, Ronaldo would blow an opportunity at finishing an absolute sitter 10 minutes into the second half. Di Maria would send Ronaldo through to goal with a perfect pass, but Ronaldo would get the ball tied up under his feet in front of the goal and send a shot wide.
A minute later, Galatasaray would strike. A wayward pass would find its way to Emmanuel Eboue just outside the box, and the former Arsenal man would bury the equalizing goal.
Minutes later, Fabio Coentrao's attempt at a clearance would go right across the face of goal and find Wesley Sneijder's foot, but the Galatasaray midfielder would totally botch what should have been an easy, go-ahead goal.
Galatasaray would continue to push. Didier Drogba would see a free kick just outside the box blocked by the wall, but he would have another scoring opportunity as the ball was sent back in. His leaping, mid-air volley would roll weakly to keeper Diego López, however.
Galatasaray would make it two, and it was Sneijder who would redeem himself. After receiving a pass just outside the box and nutmegging a Real Madrid defender, he smashed home the go-ahead goal.
And wouldn't you know it, the Turkish side wasn't done there.
This time it was Drogba, who would backheel a low cross into the corner of the net. With 18 minutes to play, Galatasaray led 3-1 and needed just two more goals to advance. The improbable had suddenly become possible.
Álvaro Arbeloa's red card just before stoppage time would give Galatasaray even more hope, but by that point the deficit was too large and the amount of time remaining was too short. And just for good measure, Ronaldo would score his second goal of the match after a centering feed from Karim Benzema.
Real Madrid would survive, but boy did Galatasaray make it interesting.
Real Madrid Back Line: C-
On one hand, you can understand Los Blancos becoming a bit passive after scoring early to go up 4-0 on aggregate with an away goal. But still, allowing Galatasaray to score three second-half goals—and it should have been four, had Sneijder properly finished a sitter—is simply inexcusable.
Coentrao, Álvaro Arbeloa, Michael Essien, Raphael Varane and Pepe nearly gave this game away for Real Madrid. They held off the Turkish side in the end, but it should have never been that hairy after Ronaldo gave the team a lead in the first 10 minutes.
Didier Drogba, Galatasaray: B
Yes, he scored the goal of the match. But for most of the 90 minutes, Drogba wasn't nearly the factor that Galatasaray needed him to be. Last year for Chelsea, Drogba was at his best in the biggest moments. In this contest, I expected more from him.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid: A
No, it wasn't his best performance. Yes, he missed a sitter. In the end, though, Ronaldo did what his team needed, scoring the two goals that ensured Real Madrid would move on to the semifinals. Once again, one of the world's finest players delivered when he was needed. What else needs to be said?
Wesley Sneijder, Galatasaray: C
You can basically take the Drogba writeup and apply it here. Sneijder simply didn't do enough for Galatasaray to win. The one difference between him and Drogba, and hence the lower grade? Sneijder missed an absolute sitter that would have made this game much, much closer. That miss alone was worth a poor grade.
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