|(Champions League) Real Madrid tear up Schalke
Real Madrid staked their claim as the main challenger to Bayern Munich's supremacy in Europe with a 6-1 rout of Schalke in Germany yesterday. (Pictured, Karim Benzema)
Madrid outclassed Bayern's Bundesliga rival and only a miracle would now see the Spanish side fail to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League, AP reports.
The devastating display against Schalke underscored Madrid's ambition of taking Bayern's crown in the Champions League, where it is seeking an elusive 10th title after being eliminated in the semi-finals the last three seasons.
Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals apiece to tear apart Schalke and coach Carlo Ancelotti was full of praise for his team.
Goals from Benzema and Bale gave a Real a two-goal lead after 21 minutes, but in between Iker Casillas pulled off a save from Julian Draxler. Jefferson Farfan sent a long cross that was slightly deflected and Draxler pounced from three meters, only to see Casillas react with a reflex stop.
After that, Schalke rarely threatened, although Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's volley in stoppage time was the finest of all seven goals on the night.
Benzema got the scoring going in the 13th minute. Bale played the ball to Ronaldo, who used his backheel to pass it through to Benzema to find the net.
The second came after a mistake by defender Felipe Santana who lost the ball to Benzema, although he had plenty of time to clear. Benzema fed it to Bale, who dribbled past three defenders before finding the left corner of Ralf Faehrmann's goal.
Ronaldo hit the post in the first half and had some clear chances thwarted by Faehrmann.
But Ronaldo finally scored in the 52nd, before each of the trio scored again.
Ronaldo and Benzema traded passes and waltzed through Schalke's defense before Ronaldo fed the France striker with another backheel. Benzema raced past two defenders and rounded the keeper to score easily in the 57th.
Schalke then lost the ball in midfield in the 69th minute and Sergio Ramos sent Bale through, leaving the forward to slot the ball past Faehrmann and inside the far post.
Ronaldo scored his second by rounding Faehrmann after collecting a pass from Benzema in the 89th.
Madrid's victory ended the team's poor run in Germany _ of its previous 25 matches there, the Spanish giants had won only one, a 3-2 success in 2000 at Bayer Leverkusen.