Ronaldo hat-trick leaves Real Madrid on brink of final

Cristiano Ronaldo scored three for the second UEFA Champions League game running to leave the holders firmly in the box seat for a place in the final with a 3-0 victory.

Semi-final highlights: Ronaldo's hat-trick for Real Madrid against Atlético
Semi-final highlights: Ronaldo's hat-trick for Real Madrid against Atlético

Cristiano Ronaldo's rich goalscoring form continued, and he upped his tally to eight in three UEFA Champions League outings, as holders Real Madrid took a giant stride towards this season's Cardiff final.

Ronaldo headed in Casemiro's cross on ten minutes and for a while it looked like the hosts would have to settle for that, despite their dominance. But the Portuguese earned breathing space as he lashed in 17 minutes from time, before all but ending Atlético's ambitions with his hat-trick goal on 86 minutes.

Modrić: We were amazing tonight
Modrić: We were amazing tonight

It was, perhaps, just what Madrid's supremacy had merited. With Karim Benzema initially in the thick of things, Zinédine Zidane's men held sway throughout against an unusually disjointed Atleti, who were grateful for the alert reflexes of Jan Oblak.

Damage limitation seemed the order of the day, however Ronaldo's late double salvo means Diego Simeone's team need a minor miracle at the Calderón next Wednesday. No side has ever recovered a two-goal first-leg deficit in a UEFA Champions League semi-final – let alone three.

Ronaldo celebrates with Sergio Ramos
Ronaldo celebrates with Sergio Ramos©Getty Images

Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Who else? When Madrid require a hero it is always the Portuguese who steps up to the plate. After scoring five times in two legs against Bayern to get them to this stage, his treble has practically sealed the Merengues' place in Cardiff and, in the process, he becomes the top marksman in European Cup semi-finals.

Ronaldo doubles Madrid's lead
Ronaldo doubles Madrid's lead©AFP/Getty Images

Madrid finally keep clean sheet
Real Madrid had managed just one shut-out in their last 16 games in all competitions and had not produced a clean sheet in this season's tournament – until now. It was a robust, secure defensive display against an Atlético team who pre-match had spoken of the need for an away goal, and they restricted the Rojiblancos to pot-shots that failed to trouble Keylor Navas.

Reporter's view
Joe Walker (@UEFAcomJoeW)
Agony and ecstasy. One half of the capital is delighted, the other miserable. Simeone's men were just not at the races and can have no complaints at the final score. They were thoroughly outplayed, especially in the middle of the park, and once unable to ride out the early storm it was always going to be a struggle. Nothing they tried came off, while Madrid delivered a masterclass – as they so often do in this competition.