Ronaldo’s hat-trick leads Real Madrid into Champions League semis

Madrid, April 13 (IANS) Star forward Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick powered Real Madrid to a 3-0 win over Wolfsburg here to send the Spanish football giants to the Champions League semi-finals for the sixth straight year.

After losing 0-2 to the upstart German club in last week’s quarter-final first leg at Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen Arena, the Blancos on Tuesday took the field at the Santiago Bernabeu knowing that they had 90 minutes to preserve their hopes of winning a trophy this season, reports Efe.

Real took command from the opening whistle and nearly opened the scoring with a header from Sergio Ramos that hit the crossbar.

The 10-time Champions League winners needed a goal in the first third of the match to make a comeback feasible, but an impatient Ronaldo scored in the 16th minute on Dani Carvajal’s cross.

The two combined again seconds later only for the Portuguese superstar’s shot to bounce off a defender to set up a corner.

Toni Kroos delivered and Ronaldo headed the ball into the net to make it 2-0 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate at the 17-minute mark amid euphoria in the stands at the Bernabeu.

The visitors, despite losing top striker Julian Draxler to injury in the 30th minute, managed to get back into the game as the first half wore on and Luis Gustavo’s strike from distance forced Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas to make an important stop.

Real came back from the half-time break recharged, returning to the pace of the opening minutes, though the vital third goal was slow in coming.

Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio’s first stop of the second half was against teammate Joshua Guilavogui, who almost redirected a Luka Modric cross into his own net.

The Blancos thought they had taken the lead when a Ramos header careened off the inside of the post and rolled along the goal line, but the referree ruled it never crossed the line.

Fatigued by their efforts in the Wolfsburg end, the Real forwards and midfielders were increasingly slow to come to the aid of their defenders, creating chances for the German side, and while Vieirinha missed the target on his chance, Navas had to make the save on a header by Dante.

With just 13 minutes in regulation, it was Ronaldo to the rescue, completing the triple with a free-kick that eluded Bengaglio.

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