"It's an advantage and I won't lie – a good, very good one," Cristiano Ronaldo told UEFA.com after his treble against Atlético, but urged caution for the tie, warning: "Football is a box of surprises."
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For the second time in a fortnight Cristiano Ronaldo scored a UEFA Champions League hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabéu to ensure Real Madrid of victory. Last time, Bayern were his victims; this time it was Atlético.
Madrid derbies in the UEFA Champions League are becoming an annual occurence, but Cristiano Ronaldo star turns are far more frequent, and when the big occasion demands a big performance, the Portuguese striker rarely disappoints.
As Zinédine Zidane put it post-match: "There's nothing you can say about him. He speaks for himself." His 19th, 20th and 21st goals against Atlético brought up his 42nd Real Madrid hat-trick and took him to 103 UEFA Champions League goals – more than Atlético have managed in their history.
As Real Madrid bid to become the first side to win the UEFA Champions League in successive seasons, their star man continues to lead from the front. His desire and will to win is second to none and despite having won the UEFA Champions League and UEFA EURO 2016 last year, his appetite for success has not diminished.
"For me all games are important, it depends how you want to interpret them," Ronaldo told UEFA.com. I always look at them in a serious manner because I want to win and goals allow us to relax and have an advantage.
"It's an advantage and I won't lie – a good, very good one. But we can't take anything for granted. We have to go into the return leg at the Calderón fully focused. We know football is a box of surprises and for that we need to be wary. We know it will be a difficult game but we've got a good advantage. We need to be wary and go there and play a good game, too."
Atlético's Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak has frustrated Real Madrid on many occasions, but was powerless to prevent the No7 becoming the first player to score a UEFA Champions League semi-final hat-trick since Robert Lewandowski hit four against Madrid for Dortmund in 2013.
"The side were tremendous as a whole," Ronaldo said. "We played well from the first to the last whistle. Fortunately today, the chances went in. Tonight, the three goals give us an advantage but the tie is not over and you cannot joke around with football. Atlético Madrid are a great team and they're in the semi-finals for a reason."
Ronaldo can thus be expected to be as sharp as ever at the Vicente Calderón next Wednesday as his team look to confirm their place in Cardiff for June's final.