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Ronaldo’s Hat-Trick Puts Real Madrid On The Cusp Of Champions League Final

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to lead Real Madrid to a 3-0 first leg victory over Atletico in the Champions League semifinals.

For all of Real Madrid’s dominance in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal with Atletico Madrid, it looked as though Atleti would escape to the Vicente Calderon with only a one-goal deficit. But then Cristiano Ronaldo happened. And then again. 

Ronaldo scored goals number 101, 102 and 103 to extend his all time record in the Champions League, and Atletico’s inability to grab an away goal, or to really trouble Real for that matter, makes the possibility of a comeback next Wednesday seem extremely farfetched. 

The opening half hour was all Real. Los Blancos launched 11 shots at Jan Oblak’s goal while Atletico failed to register any. Karim Benzema almost gave Real the advantage in the opening minutes, but he was unable to redirect a rebound on frame.

The opener arrived in the form of an unstoppable Ronaldo header, the Portuguese forward rising above Stefan Savic to turn in Casemiro’s cross.

Real continued to dominate the proceedings, and only a fantastic save from Oblak on Raphael Varane kept the score at 1-0.

 

Keylor Navas thwarted Atletico’s first chance by coming out to intercept at the feet of Kevin Gameiro, and, at the other end, Benzema put an overhead kick only inches over the bar from a Ronaldo cross.

Atletico’s best chance of the opening 45 fell to Diego Godin after a well-worked set piece, but he sent his volley over from close range. 

Diego Simeone sent on Fernando Torres, Nicolas Gaitan and Angel Correa in the opening 25 minutes of the second half in an attempt to rouse Atletico’s attack, but the second goal belonged to Real in the 73rd.

Benzema held off Godin and fed it to Ronaldo, who in turn got the better of Filipe Luis, and then he sent an unstoppable drive into the left-hand corner. Real had to be relieved to finally get a second, and it was a phenomenal strike from their talisman.

Atletico realized that an away goal would prove crucial for any hopes of a comeback, but Ronaldo once again put them to the sword in the 86th minute. Ronaldo fed Lucas Vazquez in the channel, he cut it back toward the penalty spot and there was Ronaldo to complete his hat-trick. Atletico's defense was uncharacteristically nowhere to be found.

Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric dominated the midfield, and Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Varane were impenetrable in defense, but the night belonged entirely to Ronaldo.

The 32-year-old is going nowhere. The most terrifying aspect of this Real performance, in the eyes of Atletico, Monaco and Juventus, is that they're still capable of taking it to another level.

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