By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Real Madrid kept up their winning ways on Wednesday with a complete team performance that has them looking like a favorite to be at the Champions League final next month.
In Wednesday’s other quarterfinal action, Borussia Dortmund and Malaga played out a scoreless draw that was marked by several missed chances from Dortmund’s attacking trio of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski.
Real Madrid defeated Galatasaray 3-0 at the Bernabeu, putting them in a great position for the return leg in Istanbul. Cristiano Ronaldo led the way for the Real offense with a ninth-minute chip shot goal off of a pinpoint Mesut Ozil pass. Diego Lopez, who is still holding onto the starting goalkeeper spot over returning Iker Casillas, made four saves to preserve the clean sheet.
The only blemishes on Real’s impressive Wednesday performance were from a handful of yellow cards in the dying moments of the match. Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos will miss next Tuesday’s second leg due to their late bookings.
Galatasaray, true to their pre-match comments, had no intentions of playing defensively in Madrid. Champions League veterans Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder each had good chances from long range in the first half, but their efforts flew wide of Lopez’s goal.
After Karim Benzema’s finish from a Michael Essien cross sent Real to the locker room with a 2-0 lead, Galatasaray switched to a three-back formation in hopes of grabbing a vital road goal. But the switch only meant more scoring chances for Real, and the hosts got their final goal from substitute Gonzalo Higuain midway through the second half.
In the Malaga-Dortmund first leg, it was visiting Dortmund that enjoyed an edge in chances despite an equal share in possession. The attacking tandem of Gotze, Lewandowski and Reus were able to get chances on Willy Caballero’s goal, but poor finishing let down the defending German champions at the Rosaleda.
Gotze missed three clear-cut chances at Willy Caballero’s goal, including back-to-back shots on target in the opening 20 minutes of the match. Lewandowski, who entered the quarterfinal on the heels of extending his Bundesliga scoring streak to nine matches, missed possibly the best Dortmund chance shortly after halftime. The Polish forward received a cutback pass from Gotze in the middle of the box, but his shot flew completely sideways for a Malaga throw-in.
Even though their offense was not getting as many looks as their opposition, Malaga made Roman Weidenfeller work to maintain his clean sheet. The Dortmund goalkeeper, who made three saves in the draw, came close to a devastating mistake just before halftime. Weidenfeller lost control of a dangerous Joaquin cross before defender Felipe Santana swooped in to make a last-second clearance. He redeemed himself with a great save in the 66th minute, getting his hands on a well-struck Isco shot that ended Malaga’s best attack of the match.
What do you make of these results? Do you think Real Madrid have already punched their tickets to the semifinals, or will Galatasaray make some noise next Tuesday in Istanbul? Who do you think will take the all-important second leg between Malaga and Dortmund?
Share your comments below.