Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Cristiano Ronaldo nets two as Real Madrid breeze into Champions League quarters

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) scores a goal past Schalke 04's goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann and Benedikt Howedes (C) during their Champions League last 16 second leg soccer match (Reuters) Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) scores a goal past Schalke 04's goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann and Benedikt Howedes (C) during their Champions League last 16 second leg soccer match (Reuters)
Associated Press | Madrid | Posted: March 19, 2014 11:02 am

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals as Real Madrid completed its Champions League last 16 thrashing of Schalke with a 3-1 victory on Tuesday.

Madrid breezed into the quarterfinals after winning 9-2 on aggregate following its 6-1 first-leg victory in Germany.

The Spanish leader’s progress was never in doubt as coach Carlo Ancelotti rotated his squad, with Gareth Bale forced off the bench early when Madrid forward Jese Rodriguez injured his right knee two minutes in at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Bale played a key role in the victory, feeding Ronaldo for the 21st-minute opener before Schalke defender Tim Hoogland equalized from a shot deflected beyond Iker Casillas.

Ronaldo scored his 13th goal of the competition with an individual effort before Alvaro Morata struck Madrid’s third from Bale’s pass in the 75th. The victory extended Madrid’s unbeaten run to 31 games in all competitions ahead of Sunday’s Spanish league showdown with Barcelona.

Also Tuesday, Chelsea beat Galatasaray 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals with a 3-1 aggregate victory, keeping alive the possibility of Madrid coming up against former coach Jose Mourinho.

“I think all of the best teams have won their series, although there can be some surprises,” Ancelotti said, with the quarterfinals draw coming on Friday. “Whoever we draw, it’s going to be difficult.”

Jese exited after Schalke defender Sead Kolasinac barged into the back of the Madrid winger, leaving him on the turf in visible pain. Ancelotti said Jese had ruptured his cruciate ligament, leaving him unlikely to return this season.

Bale swiftly added to the attack as Morata threaded a ball onto his run into the area and the Welshman picked out the inrushing Ronaldo to beat Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann.

Madrid’s intensity soon slackened, and the visitors took advantage of the dip in the 31st as Julian Drexler started a break that eventually finished with Hoogland’s shot from outside the area deflecting off Sergio Ramos’ foot around goalie Iker Casillas.

“The team reacted well, the performance was good,” Schalke coach Jens Keller said through a translator. “But the minute Real Madrid has an opportunity, they can convert it into goal.”

Bale lost control at the halfway line in the 74th but Ronaldo skipped onto the loose ball and headed straight for Schalke’s goal, twisting and turning defender Joel Matip before closing the run with a clinical finish from the edge of the area.

Ronaldo didn’t look done as he found the crossbar in the ensuing minute, with the rebound falling to Bale to unselfishly pass back for Morata to net after the Madrid striker had missed a number of early scoring chances.

Ronaldo, who then found the post after that, moved within one goal continued…

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