It could hardly been anyone else but Cristiano Ronaldo who scored another Champions League hat-trick as Real Madrid demolished eternal rivals Atletico Madrid in the first leg game of the UEFA Champions League semi-final to close in on a third final in four years. Nigeria’s former coach Sunday Oliseh described Real as already with nine toes in the final through a tweet released immediately after the match.
Real were utterly dominant throughout against their city rivals in the Tuesday night game played at the Bernabeu and led after 10 minutes when Ronaldo headed home Casemiro’s cross.
It looked as if the hosts might fail to fully capitalize on their superiority – until Ronaldo let the ball bounce and smashed an unstoppable shot from 16 yards past Atletico keeper Jan Oblak, who had made several saves to keep his side in the tie.
And the Portugal forward ensured all the headlines would be his with a second consecutive Champions League hat-trick, having scored five goals in the quarter-final against Bayern Munich. It was his easiest goal of the night, as he controlled Lucas Vazquez’s cross in plenty of space before firing home.
Atletico only had one shot on target and will need to pull off one of the Champions League’s all-time special performances to stop double-chasing Real from ending their European dreams for the fourth straight season.