Cristiano Ronaldo scores another hat-trick as Real Madrid ease past Shakhtar Donetsk

Portuguese now has eight goals in his last two matches

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The Independent Online

Cristiano Ronaldo hit a second-half hat-trick as Real Madrid opened their Champions League campaign with a 4-0 victory over 10-man Shakhtar Donetsk in Tuesday's Group A showdown at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Karim Benzema put the hosts ahead in the 30th minute, while Shakhtar had midfielder Taras Stepanenko sent off for a second yellow card five minutes after the re-start.

Real, helped by a dubious penalty, doubled their lead through Ronaldo five minutes later and the Portugal international scored his second when he converted another spot-kick in the 63rd minute after Marcio Azevedo's clear handball.

Ronaldo capped off a wonderful evening for the home side when he headed his third of the night 10 minutes from time.

For a fourth straight game in all competitions, Los Blancos kept a clean sheet. The win did come at a cost for Real, however, with Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane and captain Sergio Ramos all sustaining injuries.

The home side, 6-0 winners at Espanyol at the weekend, could have fallen behind in the ninth minute.

Yaroslav Rakitskiy set up Azevedo in the area but his 15-yard strike found the outside of the net.

Real wasted a good chance three minutes later when Dani Carvajal's pass from the right found Bale in the heart of the box but his shot lacked power and was saved by Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

Soon after Benzema missed a wide-open goal. Ronaldo's perfect pass found Benzema in the box and the Frenchman got past Pyatov only to hit the ball off target.

Real went ahead despite playing in numerical inferiority after Bale needed medical attention.

Pyatov failed to hold onto Isco's dangerous cross in the box and Benzema struck the rebound into the back of the net.

Real coach Rafa Benitez was forced to make his first substitution seconds later with Mateo Kovacic replacing Bale, who left the pitch with a suspected muscular injury in his left leg.

The hosts almost doubled their lead before half-time but Luka Modric's left-footed strike from 30 yards went inches wide of the far post.

Benitez brought in Pepe in place of injured Varane after the re-start.

Stepanenko was then handed his marching orders after a late challenge on Ramos.

Things got from bad to worse for the visitors as the referee awarded Real a penalty even though Ronaldo's goal-bound shot came off the back of Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna.

Pyatov guessed correctly but could not get a touch on Ronaldo's spot-kick towards the right corner of goal.

In the 58th minute Nacho replaced Ramos, who went off with a shoulder injury and Real earned another penalty after Azevedo's handball.

Ronaldo struck the spot-kick towards the same corner as before to beat Pyatov.

The Portuguese, who had scored five against Levante to open his goalscoring account this season, found the target again.

Marcelo's shot from outside the area was palmed away by Pyatov but Ronaldo headed home the rebound.

With five minutes remaining, Pyatov made a one-handed save to clear Benzema's hard drive in what looked likely to be Real's fifth.

PA

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