|H||CFR Cluj||Man. United|
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick as Real Madrid CF maintained their 100% record in UEFA Champions League Group D with a 4-1 victory at AFC Ajax.
The Merengues started with Ángel Di María, Mesut Özil and Gonzalo Higuaín on the bench but still had more than enough top-class talent on the pitch to dominate the opening 45 minutes. Ronaldo broke the deadlock on 42 minutes after good work by Karim Benzema. The provider then turned finisher, doubling Madrid's lead moments after half-time with a spectacular volley. Niklas Moisander's header briefly brought Ajax back into contention but Ronaldo sealed the points – and laid claim to the match ball – with two clinical strikes.
Not surprisingly the visitors had most of the early play, forcing three corners in the first ten minutes, although goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer was only called into action shortly after, denying Ronaldo, Kaká and Benzema in quick succession as the Spanish champions upped the pressure.
Thereafter the game took on a predictable pattern: Madrid on the front foot and constantly probing for an opening, Ajax playing mainly in their own half and barely able to mount any credible attack of their own. Ronaldo threatened twice just after the half-hour mark, first with a close-range header straight at Vermeer, then with a searing volley from the edge of the box that only just cleared the junction of post and bar.
But the Portugal forward was not to be denied for long. Shortly before the interval Benzema danced past Toby Alderweireld out on the left and his low cross was deflected by Christian Poulsen into the path of Ronaldo, who calmly slotted home.
The match seemed all but over on 48 minutes. Mere seconds after Christian Eriksen had launched a free-kick into the Madrid area, the visiting No9 acrobatically thumped Kaká's cross past Vermeer after a lightning counterattack. Yet out of the blue Ajax roared back, Moisander heading Eriksen's corner through Iker Casillas's legs and into the net.
With the home support in full voice Ajax enjoyed their best spell of the evening. Substitute Daniel Hoesen had a glorious chance to restore parity but knocked Ryan Babel's cross over with the goal at his mercy. It was to prove costly: 11 minutes from time Ronaldo scored his second with a curving drive, and then completed his hat-trick courtesy of a measured lob over Vermeer.
Ajax are now point-less after two games, while José Mourinho's side stay firmly in command with six.
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