Champions League 2017: Cristiano Ronaldo net another hat-trick
Cristiano Ronaldo hit a sensational hat-trick as holders Real Madrid beat neighbours Atletico 3-0 to take a major step towards the 2017 Champions League final in Cardiff.
The Portuguese forward followed up his treble against Bayern Munich in the last eight, with another virtuoso display as Los Blancos took a firm grip of this last-four tie with a dominant first-leg showing at the Bernabeu.
The first goal was a fine towering header, with Atléti defender Stefan Savić standing no chance of matching Ronaldo in the air.
The second was even more spectacular, with Ronaldo making the most of a fortuitous bounce by lashing a sweet volley beyond Jan Oblak, nearly ripping a hole in the back of the net.
The third was the most simple of the three, coming as the culmination of a quick counter-attack after Atléti poured forward in search of an away goal.
It had been, by and large, a quiet performance from Ronaldo, but his remarkable knack of turning up when it matters most was as evident as ever. He did it in the quarterfinals against Bayern, and he’s done it again.
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.
Ronaldo, the top scorer in the history of the Champions League with 103 goals, loves the big occasion. And occasions do not come much bigger.
He has now scored one more goal – 52 – in the knockout stages than he has in the group stages. He has now scored eight goals in his past three games in the competition, and is up to 13 Champions League semi-final goals.