Real star hits a bril­liant hat-trick against Atletico

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Ron­aldo headed home in the 10th minute after Casemiro’s bounc­ing cross caught out Atletico’s de­fence, be­fore put­ting his team on the verge of an­other fi­nal ap­pear­ance after the break.

Karim Ben­zema set him up to smash home his sec­ond on the half-vol­ley in the 73rd minute and he fin­ished from close range with four min­utes re­main­ing as Atletico of­fered lit­tle re­sis­tance.

“We are very happy with the game, with the three goals and above all keep­ing a clean sheet at home,” said Real coach Zine­dine Zi­dane, after tak­ing a huge step closer to guid­ing his side to­wards be­com­ing the first to suc­cess­fully de­fend the Euro­pean Cup since AC Mi­lan in 1990.

Yet the prospect of a La Li­gaCham­pi­ons League dou­ble was also on his mind with his side cur­rently ly­ing in sec­ond place in the Span­ish ti­tle race on the same num­ber of points as Barcelona but with a game in hand.

“I’m very proud of ev­ery­one. We are go­ing to en­joy it, rest, and then to­mor­row start think­ing about our game in La Liga (at Granada on Satur­day),” said Zi­dane.

The vis­i­tors’ best chance came

The four-time

Bal­lon d’Or win­ner moved from United to Real in a then-record £80 mil­lion deal.

Griez­mann, who has scored 25 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son, has been tipped to break the world record fee this sum­mer.

And United, who shat­tered the record last year with their £89 mil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of Griez­mann’s com­pa­triot Paul Pogba, are hot favourites to land the 26year-old as Mour­inho at­tempts to bol­ster his strik­ing op­tions. dur­ing an in­tense first half, when Kevin Gameiro broke through after 17 min­utes but was foiled by Key­lor Navas as he tried to round the Real goal­keeper.

Diego Godin lunged in to di­vert an An­toine Griez­mann free kick inches over the cross­bar as Atletico sought an equaliser but after that it was one-way traffic as Madrid im­posed their dom­i­nance on their neigh­bours once more in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion.

Real cap­tain Ser­gio Ramos was lucky to es­cape pun­ish­ment after crash­ing his fore­arm into the back of Lu­cas Her­nan­dez’s head shortly be­fore half­time, but Atletico’s headache after this de­feat will last longer than the French­man’s bruise.

Sime­one’s side did not of­fer their usual fight in the sec­ond half as Madrid killed the game off, and per­haps the tie, with Ron­aldo, play­ing in a cen­tre-for­ward role along­side Ben­zema, the ex­e­cu­tioner.

His un­stop­pable strike from the edge of the box dou­bled Real’s lead and he com­pleted his hat-trick shortly be­fore the end after good work by sub­sti­tute Lu­cas Vazquez.

Ron­aldo also scored all three goals as Real beat Atletico by the same score­line at the Vi­cente Calderon in La Liga last Novem­ber and Tues­day’s tre­ble means Atletico’s fi­nal Euro­pean game there next week is now likely to be a som­bre af­fair.

Atletico Madrid’s An­toine Griez­mann has been heav­ily linked with a sum­mer trans­fer to Manch­ester United.

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