Real Madrid virtually secured their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last night with a stunning demolition of Schalke.
Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo all scored twice as Madrid left Schalke requiring a miracle at the Bernabeu in three weeks’ time despite Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring the goal of the night in time added on.
Real began the rout in the 13th minute. Bale cut in on the right and found Ronaldo whose backheel took a deflection and found Benzema on the penalty spot. He made no mistake with a crisp finish.
Schalke were almost level within two minutes. Jefferson Farfan got down the right and his cross found Julian Draxler six yards out but Iker Casillas denied him with a stunning reflex save.
However, it was 2-0 in the 21st minute thanks to the quick feet of Bale. Benzema robbed Felipe Santana and when the Welshman gathered the ball he danced forward, beating two men before unleashing a quick shot that went in off the near post.
The visitors were now looking a threat every time they came forward and Ronaldo looked certain to score as he latched onto Angel Di Maria’s through-ball but Ralf Fahrmann saved with his feet.
The home side desperately needed to find something in the second half, but it was 3-0 in the 52nd minute as Ronaldo got the goal he had been threatening. Bale played the ball across to the Portuguese on the left and he dazzled Joel Matip with two step-overs before firing low past a helpless Fahrmann.
Five minutes later it was four as Ronaldo and Benzema exchanged passes, with the former Manchester United man releasing his team-mate in the box to fire into the far corner.
It was not long before Bale had his second of the night in the 67th minute. Sergio Ramos gathered a loose ball in midfield and freed Bale on the right. The former Tottenham man did well to remain onside and calmly lift the ball over Fahrmann.
Ronaldo was not to be outdone and had his second in the 88th minute as substitute Isco and Benzema combined to release him and he calmly slotted past the keeper.
There was still time for former Real striker Huntelaar to hit a stunning consolation when he volleyed in from the edge of the area, but it is likely to be of little consequence.