Cristiano Ronaldo had a hat-trick as Real Madrid swept aside hosts Galatasaray, 6-1, in both teams' UEFA Champions League opener Tuesday night in Istanbul.
Ronaldo scored in the 63rd, 66th and 90th minutes to increase his career total to 53 goals in the Champions League. He sits three behind Ruud van Nistelrooy for third all time in the competition.
Karim Benzema scored two more goals for Real Madrid, and Isco added the opener in the first half. Galatasaray had started brightly, threatening three times through Felipe Melo, but the hosts faded badly in the second half as Real Madrid moved forward with lethal intent on the counter.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas left the match in the 15th minute after taking an elbow to the ribs from teammate Sergio Ramos. The Spain international was making his first appearance of the season.
Both Casillas and his replacement, Diego Lopez, made fine saves to keep Galatasaray off the scoresheet early.
Casillas turned away Melo's rasping, long-distance shot in the second minute as Gala looked to take an early lead. Moments after Casillas' departure, Lopez kept out Melo's close-range header from a Wesley Sneijder free kick. Lopez repeated the feat in the 30th minute, stopping another header from Melo off another cross by Sneijder.
Then, Real Madrid took over.
Ronaldo's first goal. GIF by Bleacher Report.
Ronaldo's second goal. GIF by Bleacher Report.
Ronaldo's third goal. GIF by Bleacher Report.
Isco scored the breakthrough in the 33rd minute against the run of play. The midfielder, signed from Malaga in the offseason, hauled down Angel Di Maria's long ball with a deft first touch, then held off Emmanuel Eboue and slotted past Galatasaray keeper Fernando Muslera off the near post. It was Real Madrid's first shot on target.
Madrid controlled the rest of the half and romped after the break, but Galatasaray had one more chance to turn the match. In the 47th minute, Sneijder cut in from the left and curled a cross for Burak Yilmaz, whose header flew wide of the near post.
Seven minutes later, it was 2-0.
Melo's poor defensive header landed at the feet of Di Maria, who picked out Benzema for a one-on-one with Muslera. Benzema kept his cool and finished in the bottom corner for a two-goal advantage.
Ronaldo made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute with his first goal of the night. Di Maria broke down the right and passed across the face of goal. Isco latched onto it at the far post and nodded back into the middle, where Ronaldo reacted first and slammed home.
Three minutes later, it was 4-0. Gareth Bale, making his Champions League debut with Real Madrid after signing from Tottenham Hotspur on deadline day, whipped in a free kick from the right. Sergio Ramos directed a powerful header on goal, but Muslera saved—only for Ronaldo to power in the rebound.
Real scored their fifth in the 81st minute. Bale slotted a ball through to Ronaldo on the left, but instead of going for goal, Ronaldo opted to tee up Benzema, who tapped in from close range. Umut Bulut scored a consolation for Galatasaray three minutes later, turning in Nourredine Amrabat's cross, but Ronaldo still had something special in store.
In the 90th minute, Ronaldo capped a stunning second-half display with a top-shelf golazo. After receiving a pass on the left side of the box, Ronaldo beat a couple defenders with close control and then blasted an unstoppable shot past Muslera.
It was no more than Real Madrid deserved for a sparking counter-attacking display. And with Juventus drawing at Copenhagen, the Spanish side stand alone atop Group B.
Match stats via WhoScored.com:
On target: 5-12
Iker Casillas, GK, Real Madrid: Incomplete
This must have been one of the more frustrating nights of Casillas' career.
Having sat on the bench for much of last season under Jose Mourinho, and the first few matches of this campaign under new manager Carlo Ancelotti, Casillas finally got his chance, as promised, Tuesday night.
That chance was taken away from him within 15 minutes, and as if to rub salt in the wound, his own teammate—Sergio Ramos—was the reason. While Ramos' elbow (the incident happened in the opening moments of the match) eventually took Casillas out of the match, it didn't stop Casillas from making a top-class save on Felipe Melo.
Casillas stretched all the way to keep out Melo's rocket in the second minute. If not for that save, Galatasaray would have capitalized on their early dominance and the match might have turned out much differently.
Diego Lopez, GK, Real Madrid: A
Lopez made the most of a tough situation, playing very well on a night he didn't expect to see the pitch.
Moments after Casillas left the match due to injury, Lopez was called on to stop Melo's close-range header from a free kick. He was more than equal to the challenge. In the 30th minute, he did it again with an even more impressive save.
The injury was bad luck for Casillas, but for Lopez, it became another chance to prove his quality. He took that chance well.
Cristiano Ronaldo: A+
What else would this grade be? Ronaldo stood out on a team full of superstars. It's hard to imagine what more he could have done.
Big picture, Galatasaray: C
The result was poor, and what's more, Galatasaray already have a negative-five goal differential.
Even so, Galatasaray can take a tiny bit of solace from the fact that they played well for the opening 30 minutes or so and in truth deserved to take the lead on one of Europe's top teams. In addition, this was only one result, and Gala will have their chances against Copenhagen and, most likely to a lesser extent, Juventus.
With more luck and perhaps better finishing, this match could have turned out so much differently.
Big picture, Real Madrid: A
With respect to Galatasaray and the paragraph directly above this one, good teams make their own luck. Real Madrid are a good team. A very, very good team.
Bale, and for that matter Asier Illarramendi, might have been vanity signings (did they really need either?), but there's no doubting the quality of this side. Even with Mesut Ozil gone, Real Madrid are creative and deadly in the attack.
Isco is a superstar waiting to happen (if he's not there already), and Luka Modric continues to blossom in the holding midfield. With Bale starting on the bench, Di Maria came in and contributed two assists.
There is a scary amount of talent on this Real Madrid team. After this result, Los Blancos should be considered one of the early favorites to win the competition.