Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated his bumper new contract in emphatic fashion with a hat-trick in Real Madrid’s 6-1 victory over Galatasaray in Istanbul. While Ronaldo made a powerful statement should anyone have doubted the footballing merits of his massive pay rise, it was also a strong marker laid down by Madrid as they look to finally secure La Decima.
In a repeat of last year’s quarterfinal, Madrid had come under some pressure early before establishing a 1-0 half-time lead through a silky strike by Isco. But after the break the visitors ran wild. Ronaldo struck twice from close range before a superb exhibition of his skill to complete his treble. Karim Benzema also hit a brace, while Umut Bulut pulled a goal back at 5-0 for the beleaguered hosts.
Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim had talked boldly in the buildup about his side’s ability to upset the Spanish giants. And his words didn’t look out of place in the early going as Galatasaray took the game to Madrid. As promised by Carlo Ancelotti, Iker Casillas got his first start of the season, but it would not last long. The Spain goalkeeper was taken off with a rib injury after just 14 minutes. His replacement, Diego Lopez, was soon forced into action too to deny Felipe Melo.
Having survived that scare, Madrid took the lead just past the half-hour mark. Isco displayed sublime skill to take down a long pass forward as a defender slipped alongside him and the former Malaga man finished past Fernando Muselra from the edge of the area.
The scoreline stayed that way until the 54th minute. Then the avalanche began, beginning when Benzema got behind the Galatasaray defense and slotted into the net. Ronaldo then struck twice from inside the six-yard box, first after Isco headed back across goal and then after pouncing on a rebound when Muslera blocked Sergio Ramos’s header.
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With nine minutes remaining, Ronaldo poked across goal to give Benzema the simplest of chances before Umut got the merest of consolations with a close-range finish from Nourredine Amrabat’s cross. The moment of the match, though, came in injury time. Ronaldo bedazzled three defenders with his dribbling down the left of the box before blasting a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.