Cristiano Ronaldo proved Atletico Madrid’s Champions League dream destroyer once more with a hat-trick as Real Madrid took a commanding 3-0 semifinal, 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.
Real needed a stoppage time equaliser en route to winning the 2014 final, scored a late winner in the quarterfinals a year later and edged last season’s final on a penalty shootout.
However, there was far more of a gulf between the sides this time round.
The home fans made sure to put Atletico in their place before kick-off with chants of “kings of Europe” and a “how does it feel” banner alongside a display of their 11 European Cups.
Real piled on the pain in the opening stages for the 4 000 visiting away fans and could have killed the tie in the opening half hour.
Atletico were handed a lucky escape on seven minutes when Jan Oblak parried Dani Carvajal’s effort at the end of a careering run and the Slovenian recovered to also turn behind Karim Benzema’s follow-up effort.