Sunday 17 December 2017

Ronaldo leads Real blitzkrieg of Bayern

Bayern Munich 0 Real Madrid 4 (Real Madrid win 5-0 on agg)

Cristiano Ronaldo congratulates goalscorer Sergio Ramos during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match. Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo congratulates goalscorer Sergio Ramos during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match. Getty Images
Real Madrid's players celebrate winning 0-4
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (R) scores the 0-3 past Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer
Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's 2nd goal from a free kick
Real Madrid's goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Fabio Coentrao catch the ball next to Bayern Munich's Brazilian defender Dante
Franck Ribery of Bayern Muenchen is watched by Pepe (R) and Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid (L)

Henry Winter

Cristiano Ronaldo ripped up the record books and the European champions' defence with a brilliant performance that propelled this joyful Real Madrid side into the final of the Champions League.

Ronaldo's double takes him to 16, the highest return in a European Cup or Champions League season.

Sergio Ramos headed Real towards a date with either Chelsea or Atletico Madrid in Lisbon's Stadium of Light on May 24 with two headers.

Ronaldo made it 3-0 on the night, following a marvellous run from Gareth Bale. And the former Manchester United player had not finished his night's work, adding Real's fourth with a clever free-kick, stroked under the jumping Bayern wall.

Carlo Ancelotti was typically dignified in victory, not over-celebrating at the final whistle, simply shaking the hand of a bemused, battered, embarrassed Pep Guardiola, who was completely out-thought by the Real coach.

Ancelotti has steered Real closer to La Decima, to the dream of a 10th European Cup and the visiting fans chanted ole for long periods here.

The one sadness is that Real will travel to Lisbon without Xabi Alonso, their whole-hearted midfield sentry, their brains and heartbeat.


The Spaniard was cautioned for a challenge on Bastian Schweinsteiger, triggering a suspension. The Champions League final will be the poorer for Alonso's absence. But Real have Ronaldo and will fear nobody, particularly after this magical display.

Real's bravura first-half performance was a work of art, scoring three times from three efforts on target, settling the tie with only 29pc possession required.

Guardiola's defence was so poor, so lacking in alertness that the world's best goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, had to operate as a sweeper, rushing out to cover for his porous defence as Real stormed through again and again.

How much defensive work does Guardiola do?

Guardiola was totally outwitted by Ancelotti, whose love affair with the European Cup continues. He won it twice as a player and this will be his fourth final as a coach.

Ancelotti made a mockery of the history books, particularly the chapter chronicling Real's previously appalling record in Munich of nine defeats and a draw in their previous 10 visits. And he did so in some style.

Some of the legends of the game have scored in this fixture, from Gerd Müller to Zinedine Zidane, Lothar Matthäus to Raúl – and one of the modern-day greats added his name to the list here by setting set a record for the number of goals scored by one player in a Champions League campaign.

After all the talk of Real's threat on the counter, Bayern were first undone by two set-pieces, bringing Ramos two headers that had Guardiola turning away in disgust.

Ramos' double should have silenced the Bayern fans but they kept singing, kept believing even as the life from their European season faded.

They kept pounding their drums and chanting even when Real demonstrated their most potent strength, the ruthless, pace-filled counter-attack climaxed by Ronaldo's nerveless finish, killing the tie off before half-time.

It was astonishing to behold, seeing the European champions filleted by the visitors' scalpel. So much for Allianz being an inferno as Bayern's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge had predicted.

Ancelotti extinguished any potential flames with his tactics: well-organised defence, swift breaks and clinical exploitation of set-pieces.

Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were constantly looking to run into the tempting space behind Bayern's dishevelled back-line.

Alonso and Luka Modric were imperious in midfield, closing down Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller, and also creating, whipping balls forward.

And so it began, the brutal dissection of Bayern's defence, the pain starting after 16 minutes, and never ebbing, only deepening. Modric's outswinging corner was met powerfully by Ramos, whose header flew in. The marking was shocking.

One of Bayern's centre-backs, Dante, went into meltdown, battering into Ronaldo, fortunate to escape with only a yellow card.

Real kept their nerve and simply exacted punishment in the best manner, scoring again after 20 minutes.

Ángel Di María swept in a free-kick, Pepe flicked the ball on and Ramos finished with a superb header. Again it was woeful marking by Bayern. Again it was sweetness for Ramos.

Was the Bundesliga this season too much of a procession for Bayern and too little of a challenge?

It got worse. Having destroyed Bayern's defence in the air, Real simply took them apart on the ground with a devastating counter-attack.

Benzema played the ball through and Bale was off and running, sprinting to the edge of the area before selflessly squaring the ball to Ronaldo.

The Ballon d'Or winner calmly, ruthlessly stroked the ball past poor Neuer for his 15th goal in 10 Champions League games this season.

Real were supreme and Ronaldo added the fourth with a superb free-kick in the last minute. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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