Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo proved Atletico Madrid’s Champions League destroyer once more with a hat-trick as Real Madrid took a commanding 3-0 semi-final, first leg lead on Tuesday.
Ronaldo extended his lead as the all-time top scorer in Madrid derby matches by taking his tally to 21 and put Real firmly on course to defend their title in the final in Cardiff on June 3.
The Portuguese rewarded a bright Real start by heading home Casemiro’s deflected cross after just 10 minutes.
Ronaldo then smashed home from just inside the area and turned home Lucas Vazquez’s cross in the final 20 minutes as Real continued their domination of Atletico having eliminated them in the Champions League for the past three seasons.
“The team was tremendous. I scored the goals but the team was phenomenal from start to finish,” said Ronaldo. The sides meet again for the second leg on May 10.
“We have a good advantage but the tie isn’t over yet,” added Ronaldo. “Atletico are a good side and it is not a coincidence they are in the semi-finals again. We have to be concentrated next Wednesday.”
Atletico boss Diego Simeone, meanwhile, told his side to forget their latest derby demolition and hope for a miracle at the last European match at their Vicente Calderon stadium next week.
“We need to forget about this game,” said the Argentine. “It seems impossible, but it is football and football has these unexpected things that make it marvellous. Until the last drip of hope is gone, we will give it everything we have.”
Real needed a stoppage time equaliser en route to beating Atletico in the 2014 final, scored a late winner in the quarter-finals a year later and edged last season’s final between the two on a penalty shootout.
However, there was far more a gulf between the sides this time round.