Real Madrid built a strong and probably insurmountable lead in their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Borussia Dortmund with a comfortable 3-0 win at the Bernabeu.
Dortmund, finalists in this competition last year, have had that their side decimated by injury and looked a shadow of their former selves.
Real wasted little time in exploiting this fact, with revenge for last year’s semi-final defeat in their minds, when Gareth Bale showed good feet to poke them ahead from close range in only the third minute.
The visitors looked stunned and a period of Real dominance followed before they broke from a Dortmund corner to add a second through Isco after 27 minutes. The young Spaniard, deputising for Angel Di Maria who was taken ill prior to kick-off, shoot low from the edge of the box to make it 2-0.
Real took their foot off the gas at the start of the second-half and allowed Dortmund a lot more time and space in which to attack them.
But just as the visitors looked like they could build up a head of steam, Cristiano Ronaldo - on his 100th Champions League appearance - received a precise through ball from Luka Modric to finish tidily in the area.
Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang worked hard in attack for Dortmund and created plenty of opportunities to grab a vital away goal but couldn’t add the killer touch needed to beat Iker Casillas.
The closest call came on the hour mark when Casillas spilt a Reus cross at the feet of Mkhitaryan, but Pepe was able to get a block in.
The tie seems all but over, but with Robert Lewandowski returning for the second leg Dortmund will still retain hope of turning things around.
3' – BALE STRIKES EARLY: Bale shows quick feet in the area to poke the ball beyond Roman Weidenfeller and ease any nerves Real had. Benzema and Isco link up on the right wing allowing the Welshman to score from close range.
27' – ISCO DOUBLES LEAD: A Dortmund corner is headed away at the near post and Benzema breaks before finding Bale on the right but he is quickly crowded out and has to look for a pass, he finds Isco who casually shoots in a second from the edge of the box to extend Real's lead from out of nowhere.
29' – BALE GOES CLOSE: Bale hits this one and it dips and swerves to deceive Weidenfeller but he gets a hand to it and parries over. Great save, that.
55' - BENZEMA HOWLER: Ronaldo shows great acceleration to leave Hummels for dead before cutting along the byline and putting the goal on a plate for Benzema, who, somehow, scoops the ball over.
57' - CENTURION RONALDO: Ronaldo, on his 100th Champions League appearance, picks up a through ball from Modric in the area and takes a touch before beating Weidenfeller easily. Game over.
59' – DORTMUND DENIED: Great block by Pepe as Dortmund go close again. A cross from Reus is spilled by Casillas at the feet of Mkhitaryan who looks sure to poke home but Pepe gets a foot in.
10 - Real Madrid extended their unbeaten run in the Champions League to double figures. The win against Dortmund was their 10th without defeat, that last loss coming against Juergen Klopp’s men in the first-leg of last year’s semi-final.
3 - It’s been nearly three years since Real Madrid failed to score in a Champions League game (27/04/2011 v Barcelona) and they have scored in 34 successive CL matches.
11 - Real Madrid were able to take 11 shots on target to Dortmund's two.
100 - Cristiano Ronaldo levelled Lionel Messi’s all-time record for goals in a single Champions League campaign which is 14. The Portuguese also scored his 64th Champions League goal in his 100th appearance
TALKING POINT: Are Real the real deal? Talk of that elusive 10th European crown for Real Madrid has become tiresome but this season they look like a team with enough firepower to finally end their wait. In Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema they certainly have the goals to beat most teams but their defence is a big weakness, and even Dortmund who have been hit hard by injuries were able to exploit this weakness.
MAN OF THE MATCH Luka Modric (Real Madrid): The midfielder was understated in his contribution but he controlled the game from midfield pulling the strings both when Real piled forward applying pressure in order to win the game and when they sat deeper and conserved energy by allowing Dortmund to attack them.
Real Madrid: Casillas 6, Carvajal 7, Pepe 7, Ramos 7, Coentrao 7, Alonso 7, Modric 8, Isco 8, Ronaldo 7, Bale 8, Benzema 6. Subs: Illarramendi 5, Morata 6, Casemiro 5.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller 7, Piszczek 6, Sokratis 6, Hummels 7, Durm 6, Kehl 5, Sahin 4, Grosskreutz 5, Mkhitaryan 6, Reus 7, Aubameyang 5. Subs: Hofmann 5, Schieber 5, Jojic 5.
MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Real Madrid
- Borussia Dortmund
- Gareth Bale
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Iker Casillas
- Roman Weidenfeller