Champions League

Ronaldo, Madrid win big over Ajax

Highlights of Real Madrid's 4-1 victory over Ajax.
Highlights of Real Madrid's 4-1 victory over Ajax.
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Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick and Karim Benzema smashed in a spectacular overhead kick Wednesday to give Real Madrid a 4-1 victory over Ajax in the Champions League.

The win sent Madrid to the top of Group D and left Ajax pointless in its first two European outings this season.

''We played a very good match. Benzema, Kaka and Ronaldo all played well,'' Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said. ''Now we have six points in a very difficult group.''

Ronaldo scored his first in the 42nd and added two more in the 79th and 81st minutes to seal the match after Niklas Moisander's 56th minute header had made it 2-1 and briefly given Ajax hope.

Ronaldo, who also netted a hat trick in the Spanish league on Sunday, took his Champions League career tally to 42 goals in a morale-boosting win for Madrid ahead of this weekend's league clash with archrival Barcelona.

But it was Benzema's 48th-minute strike that was the highlight.

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The France striker hit a powerful overhead volley that left Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer clutching at thin air.

The two sides had met in the past two Champions League seasons with Madrid winning all four matches without conceding a goal to four-time European champion Ajax.

But Mourinho still praised Ajax coach Frank de Boer for reining in his team's usual attacking instinct in an attempt to close down Madrid.

''Today was competitive,'' Mourinho said. ''After the 2-1, they could have scored 2-2. Until our third goal, the match was open.''

Madrid dominated the first half and should have sealed the match by the break. It was only Ajax goalkeeper Vermeer who kept his side in the hunt with a string of good saves to deny Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema.

But Vermeer was helpless when Benzema cut in from the left in the 42nd minute and pulled the ball back through a crowd of Ajax defenders for Ronaldo to tap in from close range.

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The closest Ajax came to scoring in the first half was when Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas dropped an innocuous corner by Eriksen, only for right back Ricardo van Rhijn to head over from close range.

De Boer was enraged by his team's weak first-half performance and sloppy passing.

''If you can't pass the ball from A to B ... then you are never going to beat Real Madrid,'' he said. ''You won't even make it difficult for them.''

Ajax was left reeling by Benzema's goal, but Moisander's header gave Ajax a confidence it had lacked in the first half and De Boer's team began to exert some pressure on Madrid.

Even so, it was Madrid that kept creating chances as Ajax gave the ball away cheaply, with Benzema heading over from close range and Vermeer saving a low shot by substitute Angel di Maria.

''You can have respect for your opponent, but you should not be in awe of them and we were,'' De Boer said.

And it was Ronaldo who made the pressure pay, curling in a right-foot shot in the 79th minute and grabbing his hat trick two minutes later with a deft chip.

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