CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - Group D: Ronaldo hat-trick and Benzema stunner sends Real Madrid top
Real Madrid have moved to the top of Group D with a comfortable 4-1 win against a young Ajax side, courtesy of a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo and a sensational bicycle kick from Karim Benzema at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Frank De Boer sent out the Dutch champions to frustrate the visitors early on by packing the midfield but the inexperienced side were no match as the Spanish giants near totally dominated.
The scoreline would have been far less respectable going in at half-time had it not been for a string of fine saves from the impressive Kenneth Vermeer to deny Kaka, Benzema and Ronaldo.
The deadlock was finally broken three minutes before the break with Benzema, marauding down the left-hand side, layed on Ronaldo to apply a simple tap-in.
Whatever Jose Mourinho said at the break worked a treat as the Spanish giants came out in the second half with a spring in their step and were rewarded two minutes after the restart.
Brazilian playmaker Kaka floating a ball to the back post for Benzema to hit a thumping bicycle kick past a despairing Vermeer.
Ajax were unbeaten this season going into the game and Benzema's wonder strike awoke the home side who clawed one back eight minutes later, thanks to a towering header at the back post from Niklas Moisander from a Christian Eriksen corner.
The comeback was almost complete ten minutes later when ex-Liverpool winger Ryan Babel swung a cross to the back post for substitute Derk Boerrigter to score with the goal at his mercy, only for the Dutchman to blaze over.
Whatever hope of de Boer's men getting a result was ended with a quick-fire double from the sensational Ronaldo. Benzema this time turning provider for Ronaldo to curl into the far post with the keeper at full stretch in the 79th minute.
Ronaldo's second hat-trick in as many games was complete just over a minute later whith substitute Sami Khedira playing through the Portuguese talisman to apply a delightful lobbed finish and send him home with the match ball.
Real have now secured back to back wins following their 3-2 victory over Manchester City two weeks ago and on tonight's performance, Mourinho's men must be considered one of the favourites to challenge for the trophy.
2012/13 UEFA Champions League - Group D
Yellow cards:AJA - nil REA - Michael Essien 58'