Rampant Real book top spot

BY foxsports • November 24, 2010

First-half goals from Karim Benzema and Alvaro Arbeloa put Madrid in control and Ronaldo, following up his hat-trick against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, struck twice after the break, the second from the penalty spot. Madrid would end up finishing the match with only nine men after Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos were sent off in the closing stages after picking second yellow cards for time-wasting, but the match was already well over by that stage. The result leaves Jose Mourinho's men with an unassailable five-point advantage at the summit with one round remaining, but for Ajax it is the end of the road in the Champions League following AC Milan's victory over Auxerre. Martin Jol's men slipped four points adrift of the Italian side and will now battle it out with Auxerre for a place in the Europa league. Mourinho, who was back on the bench after serving a two-match domestic touchline ban in Spain, was without several of his first-choice XI at Amsterdam ArenA but it appeared to make little difference as Madrid started in confident fashion. The visitors dominated the opening skirmishes and Pedro Leon, Benzema, Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil all had efforts before the Frenchman put Madrid ahead in the 36th-minute with a well-worked goal. Alonso's long ball into the area was superbly laid off by Ozil and Benzema, who continues to grow in confidence following an uninspiring start to the season, coolly side-footed his shot into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box. Marcelo was then denied by Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg before Arbeloa made it 2-0 just before half-time with a long-range strike that appeared to take a slight deflection off home striker Mounir El Hamdaoui, leaving Stekelenburg wrong-footed. Madrid continued their dominance in the second half with Ronaldo almost making it 3-0 in the 47th minute after breaking clean-through, but Stekelenburg managed to deflect the Portugal international's low shot onto the crossbar and over for a corner. Benzema then fired over before Ajax went close in the 68th minute with a good 25-yard strike from Jan Vertonghen that was brilliantly saved by Casillas diving to his left. Just a minute after that Madrid went 3-0 up following a defensive mistake. Madrid substitute Angel Di Maria intercepted a poor pass by the home side and he raced to the edge of the Ajax area before slipping the ball into Ronaldo, who drilled a low shot across Stekelenburg and into the far corner of the net. Ozil was denied a fourth Madrid goal when Stekelenburg superbly saved his free-kick in the 76th minute, but the Germany international turned provider in the 80th minute to help Ronaldo net his second from the penalty spot. Ozil did well down the right before being brought down by Urby Emanuelson inside the area, and Ronaldo stepped up to calmly slot in the resulting spot-kick. That completed the scoring but Madrid's night ended on a sour note as Spanish World Cup winners Alonso and Ramos both picked up needless bookings in the closing moments to earn themselves early baths.

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