Cristiano Ronaldo went rampage again on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions league when he single handedly took apart Atletico Madrid with a sublime hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid moved a step forward to a back to back final and kept their hopes alive of a record back to back Champions success, a feat yet to be achieved by any team the highest so far by any team was Manchester United who were finalist in 2009 after their 2008 success. Ronaldo came into the game with a penalty miss in his last game which had almost cost Real Madrid against Valencia, Benzema who had not scored in a long time started again as usual, probably still having that spell on Zidane, Bale and Pepe were unavailable due to injury, but Varane had finally returned and that was some good news, Isco replaced Bale in the lineup and Varane replaced Nacho in a typical Zidane line up only missing Bale.
Atletico came into the game with Griezmann who had enjoyed denying Real Madrid victory at the Santiago Bernabeu last month, while starting Gameiro instead of Torres, 21-year-old Hernandez replaced injured Juanfran and Gimenez was sidelined due to injury.
Atletico came into the game knowing they had never beaten Real Madrid in the Champions league losing two finals and a quarter final in their previous meetings meant that for Atletico to get one past Real Madrid in the Champions league they needed some extraordinary help, but for a Real team who had failed to keep a clean sheet in the Champions league probably luck was smiling on them. Atletico started the game with the hope of getting as many away goals as possible.
From the blast of the whistle Real Madrid took total control of the game causing a lot of trouble for Atletico’s defense which look more disorganized and disoriented with a lot spaces left uncovered at their backline. Atletico Madrid’s set out was very bad, the worst I had seen in a long time with a lot of misplaced passes in the first opening minutes this surely wasn’t looking like their night, making me wonder why Simone had decided to set up like this, trying to play an attacking style while knowing the devourer Real Madrid for their fast counter attacking football and it only took ten minutes before Ronaldo struck his first of the night putting Real Madrid in the driving seating as the kept pushing, holding nothing back, coming forward hungrier and wanting more, but it was Jan Oblak who kept Atletico in the game and was the only reason why Real were not three to four goals up at halftime.
The second half started from where Real Madrid had left off still in advance control and looking the more likely to score again Simone made two changes after thirteen minutes in the second half trying to change the game introducing Torres and Guaitan to replace Gameiro and Saul, but it was not enough as Atletico failed to be as solid as rock at the back as they usually were. Real Madrid were forced into an earlier change due to the injury on Carvajal introducing Nacho who provided less offensively on the right. Real Madrid kept possession, passing the ball around still in search of a second they kept knocking and knocking and soon the door opened again to Cristiano Ronaldo who second his second on the night. Real Madrid kept their composure at the back and was totally excellent something I had hardly seen, they were totally discipline not letting Atletico get past them at all and appropriately it was the man who started the party who wrapped it up with a third goal four minutes from time to complete his hat trick putting Real Madrid only a foot away from the final with his match winning hat trick.
Cristiano Ronaldo started the Champions league goal scoring very slow with two goals in his six group matches making it hard to see him catch up with his rival Messi who had ten in five and had scored in every game surely it was looking like Messi’s season especially when Barcelona overturned a 4-0 first leg loss to PSG in the second leg 6-1 Messi also increased his goals tally to eleven with a goal in the 6-1 rout, but Messi failed to inspire Barcelona in overturning their 3-0 first leg loss to Juventus.
Ronaldo on the other hand failed to get a single goal in the second round though assisting his team through Napoli, but when he was called upon against Bayern by Real Madrid while a goal down he bailed his side out of trouble with his brace and he was there again in the second leg after Real Madrid had gotten themselves in more trouble with an extra time to play, Ronaldo was there again to complete his hat trick, helping Real past Bayern in two legs with his five goals and on Tuesday night he was at the center of it again with a back to back hat trick in the Champions league Ronaldo has now scored eight goals in three games, ten in total while just one behind Messi it hard to say he won’t score again in the return leg and with Ronaldo’s sublime Champions league performance it’s hard to see anyone preventing Real Madrid from a record back to back Champions league glory.
Written by Timilehin Peter