Cristiano Ronaldo goals give Real Madrid commanding lead
Five against Bayern Munich, three against Atlético Madrid... Cristiano Ronaldo has left gas in the tank for the season's business end, and it's showing. It's also clear that he's putting the finishing touches to his conversion. He no longer has his old 50-metre burst of speed, but he retains a voracious hunger and killer instinct for goals, a short-range turn of pace, physical stature... And he's dusted off that trickery on the ball from early on in his career, which he then sacrificed for power. The result is a devastating centre-forward who put paid to Bayern and has left Atleti staring at elimination. A 3-0 first-leg win is more than any Madridista could have dreamed of. Real were fantastic, but the headlines go to the hat-trick hero.
If both teams show the same desire, the best 11 tend to win out. Well, Real Madrid have the better players, and if they fight tooth and nail with last night's passion, all the Diego Simeones in the world can't stop them. Los Blancos ran hard and stuck to their task with total focus, refusing to let any sloppiness creep in. We saw Cristiano and Karim Benzema track back to support those behind them more than ever. We saw a home side who in the first half won the battle of faith against Atlético, who in addition have a loose cog who disrupts the machine: Yannick Carrasco. He's a terrific player, but his laziness leaves chinks in their armour. It's an exception the Belgian's boss tolerates, because he can make things happen in attack.
Real Madrid within touching distance of Champions League final
Atleti might have got themselves into the game after the break, when Real took a breather. But they had little to offer going forward, where Antoine Griezmann doesn't have a whole lot of company. The opportunity passed, and the visitors shipped two more goals from Cristiano that saw the Portuguese put the seal on a marvellous performance. The hosts ended the night with a three-man attack of Marco Asensio, CR7 and Lucas Vázquez that's certainly worth consideration: two hard-working, speedy wingers with the ability to go by players, plus a striker who covers a lot of grass and is a deadly finisher. Zinedine Zidane will have taken note. Either way, Real now have one foot in Cardiff, thanks - once again - to a footballing great.