Real Madrid thrash Schalke 04 at Gelsenkirchen in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie, and virtually book a place in the quarter-final of this competition.
The tie is all but over, in fact anything other than a Real Madrid win will produce perhaps the most entertaining match in the history of this competition – which is highly unlikely to say the least. Real Madrid were expected to win away from home, but very few would have expected them to score six past a Schalke side who came into this game on the back a good run of results.
Karim Benzema opened the scoring in the 13th minute of the match after a lovely back heel from Ronaldo at the edge of the box set him through. Just eight minutes later Gareth Bale got into the act and scored from a lovely individual effort after dancing past a host of Schalke defenders. Schalke were some able to keep the score-line down to 0-2 at half-time, but normal service resumed in the second half.
Real Madrid enjoyed 57% of possession in this game, but the most interesting stat is that of 23 attempted shots, out of which 11 were on target. It is fair to say Ralf Fahrmann was a busy man last night. Cristian Ronaldo started the rout in the second half after he was picked up by Bale and the Ballon D’Or winner skipped past a challenge to drill home a low left footed shot into the corner of the net. There was no time to breathe for Schalke as Benzema scored another just five minutes later, once again being set up a wonderful pass by Ronaldo from the edge of the box.
After Benzema, Gareth Bale completed his brace as well in the 69th minute of the game. The former Tottenham star was assisted by a lovely through ball from Sergio Ramos and he slotted it past the on rushing goalkeeper into the bottom corner. It almost seemed like a competition between the front three of Real Madrid as to who can score the most and Ronaldo was not to be left behind. The former Manchester United winger got his second of the match in the 89th minute and this time Benzema returned the favour with an assist. As thing looked gloomy for the home side, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pooped up with a consolation goal, but what a consolation it was. The Dutchman produced a contender for goal for the season as he volleyed home a hopeful cross from Christian Fuchs down the left, from the edge of the box.
Carlo Ancelotti was understandably delighted with the result and his side’s performance and he reserved special praises for Gareth Bale.
“We played a very, very good match. We got well into the match, scored two early goals and that opened the game and left us able to counter and to use the speed of our players.
“That was Bale’s best game of the season.” – The Real Madrid manager said.