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Masterful Madrid take top spot in style

AFC Ajax 0-4 Real Madrid CF
Despite finishing with just nine men the Spanish side clinched top spot in Group G and ended the hosts' hopes of advancing.

Masterful Madrid take top spot in style
Masterful Madrid take top spot in style ©UEFA.com

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice as Real Madrid CF sealed top spot in UEFA Champions League Group G with a comfortable victory at AFC Ajax, despite having both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos sent off in the closing stages.

With second-placed AC Milan winning 2-0 at AJ Auxerre in the section's other match, Ajax now trail the Italian side by four points and cannot advance whatever the result in their final game at San Siro on 8 December. Madrid, meanwhile, will can look ahead with confidence after first-half goals from Karim Benzema and Álvaro Arbeloa, supplemented by a second-half double from Ronaldo, the second from the penalty spot, clinched top spot in style.

Madrid started on the front foot, and Toby Alderweireld had to block a rasping goalbound shot from Pedro León after only five minutes before denying Mesut Özil in similar fashion. Maarten Stekelenburg then palmed away a powerful drive from Benzema after the French striker had worked a one-two with Ronaldo.

The breakthrough came on 36 minutes when Alonso played a long pass into the Ajax box, and Özil brilliantly laid the ball off in mid-air for Benzema to calmly place a shot high to Stekelenburg's left. A minute before half-time José Mourinho's men doubled their advantage with another fine strike. Ronaldo's free-kick from the edge of the box struck the Ajax wall, but the ball broke to Arbeloa who hit a swerving shot that deflected off Mounir El Hamdaoui to leave Stekelenburg helpless.

Immediately after the restart Ronaldo exchanged passes with Benzema then burst beyond the home back line, but somehow Stekelenburg deflected his low effort onto the bar. Next up was Benzema, who shot over after wriggling free inside the area.

The Spanish side continued to dictate the game, holding possession and frequently breaking from midfield. With the 70-minute mark approaching last season's Dutch runners-up had their first effort on target, but Iker Casillas got down smartly to save Jan Vertonghen's shot.

Moments later Madrid struck again. Ángel Di María, having replaced Pedro León minutes earlier, delivered an angled pass to Ronaldo, who sent a sweet left-foot finish beyond Stekelenburg. Özil almost made it four a few minutes later but the busy Ajax goalkeeper parried his low free-kick.

Ronaldo then took his UEFA Champions League goal tally to 25 from the penalty spot after Urby Emanuelson had tripped Özil. Even the late dismissals of Alonso and Sergio Ramos, who both picked up a second yellow for wasting time, could not take the sheen off a magnificent Madrid display.

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