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Madrid firepower too much for Galatasaray

Published: Wednesday 3 April 2013, 22.55CET
Real Madrid CF 3-0 Galatasaray AŞ
Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín all scored as the nine-time champions closed in on a record 24th semi-final.
by Paul Bryan
from Santiago Bernabéu

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Published: Wednesday 3 April 2013, 22.55CET

Madrid firepower too much for Galatasaray

Real Madrid CF 3-0 Galatasaray AŞ
Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuaín all scored as the nine-time champions closed in on a record 24th semi-final.

Real Madrid CF took a significant step towards a record 24th European Cup semi-final as José Mourinho's side proved too strong for Galatasaray AŞ.

With visiting coach Fatih Terim admitting a defeat for his team would cause no surprises, Madrid moved quickly to justify that opinion and took the lead nine minutes into this quarter-final – Cristiano Ronaldo chipping in his 18th goal in in his last 16 UEFA Champions League appearances. Karim Benzema doubled the nine-time winners' advantage shortly before the half-hour and his second-half replacement Gonzalo Higuaín headed a third 17 minutes from time.

Having sat out the round of 16 second-leg victory at Manchester United FC, Benzema appeared hungry for action, nodding Ángel Di María's early cross wide before combining with Mesut Özil. The German's slick pass set Ronaldo clear of the defence and his chipped finish past the advancing Fernando Muslera promptly supplied the tie's opening goal.

The Istanbul outfit – confidently boasting an attacking formation throughout – had won their last three UEFA Champions League away games and soon demonstrated why with a clever move, Didier Drogba spinning away from Raphaël Varane only to lash a shot over the bar. Victorious last year with Chelsea FC, Drogba then drew a fisted save from Diego López as Galatasaray continued to probe. 

Their forward momentum sporadically checked by the Turkish Super League leaders, Madrid were nevertheless the more potent attacking force and increased their lead in the 29th minute. Michael Essien, chosen ahead of Álvaro Arbeloa, lofted a ball towards the far post where, with Emmanuel Eboué and Semih Kaya failing to cut out the cross, Benzema netted with a shot that went in off Muslera's right-hand post.

Presented with a glorious chance to make amends as the half progressed, Eboué could only drill his attempt straight at the legs of Diego López. Opportunities carried on coming for Galatasaray; after the interval Felipe Melo scurried forward before blasting wide.  

Having ended Madrid's run of six straight last-16 eliminations when he took over in in 2010, Mourinho has guided the Merengues to successive semi-finals and his eagerness to make it a third was visible as he waved his players on in search of a third goal. His instructions were followed to the letter, substitute Higuaín registering a timely first goal in this season's competition – rising to head in Xabi Alonso's free-kick and put Madrid firmly in the driving seat ahead of Tuesday's return leg.

Last updated: 04/12/13 5.59CET

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