Real Madrid CF 3-0 AC Sparta Praha
AC Sparta Praha's UEFA Champions League dreams ended at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium as they were beaten 3-0 by Real Madrid CF in their Group C game.
Sparta's elimination at the second stage of the competition was confirmed after three goals in quick succession saw their slim hopes of qualifying for the next stage extinguished in Spain.
Having held the home side at bay for the first half, two second-half substitutions proved to be the Czech champions' undoing as Madrid found an extra gear in the final 30 minutes. Santiago Solari opened the scoring after 60 minutes chipping the ball over Peter Cech after a neat one-two with substitute Savio as the home side finally found the sense of urgency which seemed to have deserted them in the first half.
Guti grabs second
A second substitute had an even more immediate impact as Madrid made it 2-0 four minutes later. Oscar Miñambres had barely touched the ball before he swung a pass across the edge of the penalty area for Guti. The striker pulled the ball past one defender and shot low through the legs of Sparta's Martin Klein to give Cech no chance.
Just desserts for Savio
Savio got the goal his inspiring performance deserved seven minutes later as he completed a graceful move. Raúl Bravo crossed from the left wing and Savio was on hand to head the ball back across Cech to give Madrid an unassailable lead. It was hard luck on Sparta who were decimated by injuries - as if to prove it they named only five substitutes when the laws of the competition allow seven.
Low on chances
In a first half low on goalmouth action, Sparta sat back and waited for Madrid to come at them hoping to hit on the break through the ever-reliable Libor Sionko and the pacey Marek Kincl, or grab something from one of Rastislav Michalík's set-pieces. While the Spanish side utterly dominated possession, they had little to show for their first-half efforts except a few long-range efforts which caused Cech few problems.
Indeed, it was Sparta who came closest to opening the scoring moments before the break as Kincl chased a gigantic goal-kick from Cech into the Madrid penalty area. Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas had to be at his most alert and agile to deny the industrious Sparta man before scrambling the ball away for a corner. Nine minutes into the second half, Sparta had an even better chance to open the scoring as a beautifully flighted ball from a free-kick found Jirí Novotny with only Casillas to beat.
Clips shot wide
However, though the defender managed to slide the ball beyond the goalkeeper, he also clipped it across the face of goal and wide. Within six minutes, Solari opened the scoring and Novotny had reason to rue his miss. Once Madrid got started, Sparta looked forlorn and showed only flashes of the combative, all-action style that has won them so many friends during their Champions League campaign.
Hits the crossbar
When Novotny's sweetly struck shot rattled Casillas' crossbar after 77 minutes, it was a sign that this was really not Sparta's day as Vincente del Bosque's tactically rotated squad showed no sign of caving in.
On the downside for Madrid, bookings for Pedro Munitis and Iván Helguera mean the pair will both now be unavailable for the final Group C game away at Panathanaikos FC, when Madrid seek their sixth successive second stage victory. Sparta, meanwhile, will take their final bow in this season's competition at home against FC Porto on Matchday Twelve.