03 October 2012
Real Madrid are on a clear upward trend. If on Sunday they thrashed Deportivo, today they did the same against Ajax with a goal from a spectacular bicycle kick from Benzema, arguably the best of this year's Champions League, and a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the competition’s top-scorer. The Whites, who are also the highest scoring team in the tournament, recorded their fifth straight victory and took the lead in Group D with just four days until el Clasico.
Real Madrid entered the field at the Amsterdam Arena wearing green and eager to replicate the excellent performances of the previous two seasons, in which the defeated Ajax. The Whites were seeking their fifth straight win and tenth in the Group Stage with Essien, Kaká and Callejón, who scored a brace here last season, and Benzema as changes to the starting line-up. They didn’t need much time to show that this stadium is still a favourite place to visit. Exactly four minutes. That is how long it took to shake off the home team’s and home crowd’s initial pressure and start having clear chances. Three inside the first 15 minutes. All of them were stopped by an outstanding Vermeer, who put on a lesson in reflex saves in Dortmund on the opening day.
Cristiano Ronaldo had the first in the 13th minute in a piece of play started by Callejón after he stole the ball in midfield. The academy player passed to Kaká who played the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo who could not beat the home team goalkeeper in a one-on-one. The next, a double opportunity, came a minute later. An excellent solo run from Cristiano Ronaldo on the left wing who cut inside into the area and passed the ball to Kaká. The Brazilian's shot was blocked by Vermeer, who did the same for the Whites’ second attempt from the rebound, this time by Benzema.
The visiting team’s dominance was overwhelming, although the match was interrupted twice because of a flat ball. Ajax were limited to hoping and it seemed that Real Madrid’s goal was only a matter of time in coming. It came three minutes before the break but it could have come in any one of the multiple chances that preceded it. In fact, Real Madrid had three clear chances in just three minutes. The first two were crafted by Cristiano Ronaldo who would later get his deserved award of a goal. The first saw his header arrive in Vermeer's hands in the 36th minute and the second a left-footed volley that went narrowly just inches over the home team’s bar. The third chance went to Marcelo in the 38th minute but his shot from the edge of the area was saved by the Ajax goalkeeper.
We said that the goal came before the break and did so following another interception in midfield, which led to Benzema going into the area, shaking off a home defender with a great dummy and then put in the cross. Cristiano Ronaldo took advantage of it in the 42nd to score for the fourth consecutive match. The situation was perfect. Casillas was virtually unseen and Real Madrid scored at a great time to score psychologically and went to the changing room with the advantage.
Spectacular goal from Benzema and hat-trick from Ronaldo
The second half could not have started better way for the visitors and also for the delight all football lovers. In fact, the Amsterdam Arena witnessed possibly the best goal so far in this year's Champions League. A Kaká cross from the right in the 48th and Benzema, who had overrun the ball, shot with a bicycle kick that surprised Vermeer because of its fluidity and placement. That goal did a lot of damage to Ajax as it looked like everything that the coach had prepared at halftime had to be thrown out of the window. Real Madrid were in complete control but football is unpredictable and an isolated play gave the Dutch team hope. A corner from the left and Moisander, at the far post, put the ball into the net with a header in the 56th minute. 2-1 and although it was a moment of happiness there was more suffering to come.
Mourinho invigorated the team and brought on Di María for Callejón in the 61st minute. The Argentine could have restored the 2 goal margin, but his shot from the edge of the area was saved by Vermeer. The chances came one after another and Hoesen, who replaced Sana, had the opportunity to equalise in the 68th minute. His shot from the goal line went over to the disbelief of the home crowd. It was the last of Ajax’s opportunities to score. Özil and Khedira coming on for Kaká and Essien energised the visitor’s midfield the team have them to thank for the further goals. Cristiano Ronaldo was the scorer of both within just three minutes. In the first finished a great piece of interplay with Benzema and a shot tight inside the post from in front of the goal in the 79th minute and the second beat Vermeer with elegant chip in the 81st (second consecutive hat-trick from the Portuguese, who is the top scorer in this season’s Champions League). The best way to finish the match and record the fifth consecutive victory before el Clasico.