herald

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Ronaldo hat-trick seals Real comeback

Real Madrid 3 Wolfsburg 0 (Real Madrid win 3-2 on agg)

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring his third goal to send Real on their way to the Champions League Semi-Finals. (AP Photo/Paul White
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring his third goal to send Real on their way to the Champions League Semi-Finals. (AP Photo/Paul White
Cristiano Ronaldo completes his hat-trick from a freekick. Reuters / Sergio Perez
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo scores their third goal completing his hat-trick. Reuters / Juan Medina

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick inspired Real Madrid to a 3-0 comeback victory over VfL Wolfsburg last nigth that clinched a place in the Champions League semi-finals.

The prolific Portuguese got the 10-times European champions off to the perfect start by tapping in Daniel Carvajal's cross after 16 minutes and then headed a second goal less than a minute later from Toni Kroos' corner.

Ronaldo capped a 3-2 win on aggregate when he curled in a free-kick after 77 minutes, his 16th goal in this season's competition taking him within touching distance of his record of 17 in 2013-14.

It is the sixth successive season that Real have reached the last four.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane's only change from the first leg was to replace the much-criticised Danilo at right back with Carvajal. Opposite number Dieter Hecking kept the same line-up that served him so well at the Wolfsburg Arena.

Carvajal vindicated Zidane's decision when he beat Julian Draxler to the ball in midfield before setting up Ronaldo's opening goal.

Top scorer this season in La Liga and the Champions League, the 32-year-old was in the mood for another big European occasion and he sent the Bernabeu crowd wild with delight by scoring twice more.

Three months ago Real fans were waving white handkerchiefs in a show of anger during the final throes of Rafael Benitez's short-lived reign.

Last night, supporters gave the players a standing ovation after a brilliant performance saw them advance to the semi-finals for the sixth successive season.

Ronaldo grabbed the match ball at the final whistle and placed it under his shirt as he lapped up the applause from the stands but, despite his hat-trick, this was a real team effort from Zidane's side.

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