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Madrid march towards semis after sublime Ronaldo chip

ESPN staff
April 3, 2013 « Kilmarnock forced to settle for a point | Chartbeat test »
Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to victory over Galatasaray © Getty Images
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Real Madrid appear to be heading towards the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League after they built a substantial first-leg lead over Galatasaray on Wednesday, and Borussia Dortmund will fancy their chances of joining them following their draw at Malaga.

Madrid are hunting what would be their 10th European Cup, a landmark that has eluded them for the past ten seasons. Propelled by the insatiable goalscoring appetite of Cristiano Ronaldo they might just find success this year, with the semi-finals beckoning following a 3-0 triumph over Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Jose Mourinho has already won Europe's greatest club competition with Porto and Inter Milan, and he is targeting an incredible hat-trick with Madrid. Ronaldo, meanwhile, is looking to build on the solitary Champions League he won with Manchester United, and inevitably it was he who made the breakthrough in the Spanish capital.

It took nine minutes for Madrid to supply him with the ammunition, Mesut Ozil sliding the Portuguese into the inside-left channel where Ronaldo lifted the ball over the outrushing keeper. The technique was sublime, the execution effortless.

Madrid are hardly built to defend a lead and so, while they went in search of further goals, Galatasaray were offered a plethora of chances to equalise. Didier Drogba was most profligate, hammering his first opening over the bar before sending a 25-yarder down the throat of Diego Lopez.

Instead it was Madrid - lethal on the break - who scored a second, Karim Benzema this time squeezing the ball inside the near post after Michael Essien's wicked cross proved just too high for Ronaldo. Former Arsenal man Emmanuel Eboue could have responded before the break, but he drove straight at the feet of Lopez after being played in by Drogba.

Mario Gotze missed plenty of chances for Dortmund © AP
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The second half was a tighter affair, but Gonzalo Higuain scored the killer third goal that might just have ended any realistic hopes of a Galatasaray fightback in the second leg. The Argentine expertly guided Xabi Alonso's free-kick into the far corner with his head, leaving the visitors to contemplate a mammoth task back in Turkey.

The night's other quarter-final tie between Malaga and Borussia Dortmund witnessed an unbelievable miss from Robert Lewandowski as the game ended 0-0.

A scoreless first half could easily have yielded four or five goals as Dortmund in particular wasted a string of opportunities. Mario Gotze was arguably most culpable, with Marco Reus also providing reason to feel he should have done better. For the hosts, Javier Saviola showed a selfish streak when team-mates were better placed.

Gotze first ran clear on to a Lewandowski header but his shot lacked power. The Germany international then got in one-on-one down the right of the area, but Willy Caballero was again equal to his side-foot shot.

None could compare though to Lewandowski's 48th-minute howler, which saw him send the ball spinning well wide of goal when presented with a golden chance 10 yards out. Gotze then had another opportunity to break the deadlock, but his low drive across the keeper was toed wide by Caballero.

Isco stung the palms of Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller as both teams pressed for a crucial lead to take into the second leg, but they will head to Germany needing to score to reach the last-four.

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