.
.
.
.

Ronaldo surpasses Messi as Real thump Shakhtar

Cristiano Ronaldo moved three goals clear of Lionel Messi as the Champions League top scorer when he netted a hat-trick for Real Madrid

Published: Updated:

Cristiano Ronaldo moved three goals clear of Lionel Messi as the Champions League top scorer when he netted a hat-trick for Real Madrid in a 4-0 victory over 10-man Shakhtar Donetsk in their Group A opener on Tuesday.

A howler from Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov let in Karim Benzema to score the opener in the 30th minute before the visitors were reduced to 10 men five minutes into the second half when Taras Stepanenko hacked down Sergio Ramos and was shown a second yellow card.

Real doubled their lead after Ronaldo’s shot hit Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna on the back in the 54th minute and the referee inexplicably awarded a penalty and the Portugal captain netted another spot kick nine minutes later after Marcio Azevedo handled in the area.

Ronaldo, who hit five past Espanyol in La Liga on Saturday, completed his hat-trick in the 81st minute when he followed up a Marcelo shot and headed into the net to take his Champions League tally to 80.

Real’s victory gave new coach Rafa Benitez a winning debut but came at a cost as their Wales winger Gareth Bale limped off midway through the first half with what looked like a muscle strain in his left leg.

Real, the record 10-times winners and 2014 champions, several times went close in the early stages with Bale almost scoring with a clever flick through his legs from Dani Carvajal’s cross in the 13th minute.

Shakhtar were holding their own reasonably well without troubling Real keeper Keylor Navas until Pyatov came out to gather a cross and fumbled the ball straight to Benzema.

The France striker, who missed two other relatively easy chances, cracked it into the empty net for his 43rd Champions League goal.

Real have only failed to win their opening home match twice in 45 European Cup campaigns and not since 1962 when they drew 3-3 against Anderlecht.