Real Madrid continued their sterling form in Europe’s most prestigious club competition as they beat Galatasaray by four goals to one at the Santiago Bernabeu in what was a gripping match of football right from the very outset in this Group B UEFA Champions League fixture.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti opted to start with a young and fresh team as qualification to the next round as group leaders had already been guaranteed.
Cristiano Ronaldo was rested after having suffered an injury scare at the La Liga in the weekend. Jese started up top as Karim Benzema was rested and the Spaniard had Isco, Bale, and Angel di Maria for company.
Brazilian midfielder Casemiro started in the middle of the park alongside Asier Illaramendi as Xabi Alonso watched on from the bench.
However, Ancelotti’s plans were thrown out of the park when Sergio Ramos picked up his 17th straight red card of his Real Madrid career early on in the game. The Italian coach had to sacrifice Jese in the attack for Nacho, another academy graduate at Real who took up Ramos’ place in the heart of the Madrid defence.
Things fell into perspective once record signing Gareth Bale gave Real the lead in the 37th minute with a superbly taken free-kick. The Welshman lifted his effort over the wall and left the keeper for dead as the flight of the ball deceived Iscan. Ronaldo, who had been watching from the stands would have been mighty impressed with the effort.
The next minute however, parity was restored as Didier Drogba found Unmut Bulut with a fantastic through ball that was dispatched past a stranded Iker Casillas. However, that was that for Roberto Mancini’s side as far as positives were concerned on the night.
With a man down, Real Madrid continued to surge forward and in the second half, their efforts paid off. Left back Marcelo found a waiting Alvaro Arbeloa with a fantastic cross and the Spain defender converted from the box to put the home side ahead.
On came Xabi Alonso for Casemiro and Real Madrid looked to be the side on the ascendancy despite being a man light. The third goal was wonderfully orchestrated from the right of midfield by Isco and culminated in a superb goal from di Maria who slotted the ball past a bemused goalkeeper.
Thereafter, former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba tried his luck with a superb looping effort only to see it saved by the wonderful Casillas. Real sealed the deal when Isco rounded Iscan for the final goal of the night.
Galatasaray will now need to win their final Group B game against Juventus to make it through to the next stage while a draw will be enough for the side from Turin, who now sit in second place in the Group with 6 points from 5 games. Mancini’s side have 4 in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage.