GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany — Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals apiece as Real Madrid crushed Schalke 6-1 on Wednesday to all but seal a place in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Madrid dominated from the start of the first leg match in the last 16, scoring twice in the first 21 minutes through Benzema and Bale.
Ronaldo rifled the ball home in the 52nd, before each of the trio struck again, with Schalke hardly able to threaten Real's goal.
Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar volleyed in a consolation strike in stoppage time — the most spectacular of all seven goals on the night.
However, the devastating display by the nine-time winners leaves Schalke with only a mathematical chance of advancing in the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on March 18.
In the other last-16 match on Wednesday, Chelsea earned a 1-1 draw at Galatasaray.
Madrid's victory ended the team's poor run in Germany — of its previous 25 matches there, the Spanish giants had won only one, a 3-2 success in 2000 at Bayer Leverkusen.
The Spanish league leader is unbeaten in 27 games — its best run since 1988/89 when it went a record 34 games unbeaten.
Ronaldo now has a competition-high 11 goals this season and 61 goals in 98 Champions League matches, third behind Raul Gonzalez (71) and Lionel Messi (66).
Madrid began to show its class early and was soon two goals ahead.
Benzema got the scoring going in the 13th. Bale played the ball to Ronaldo, who used his backheel to pass it through to Benzema to find the net.
The second came after a mistake by defender Felipe Santana who lost the ball to Benzema, although he had plenty of time to clear. Benzema fed it to Bale, who dribbled past three defenders before finding the left corner of Ralf Faehrmann's goal.
In between the two Madrid goals, keeper Iker Casillas pulled off a stunning save from Julian Draxler. Jefferson Farfan sent a long cross that was slightly deflected and Draxler pounced from three meters, only to see Casillas react with an amazing reflex stop.
At the other end, Ronaldo hit the far post in the 32nd minute with a low shot that bounced back into Faehrmann's arms.
Faerhmann then foiled Ronaldo in the 37th, knocking away a point-blank attempt.
But Ronaldo finally struck in the 52nd, shaking off Joel Matip with a deft move before firing into the far corner with a rasping left-foot shot.
Ronaldo and Benzema traded passes and waltzed through Schalke's defense before Ronaldo fed the France striker with another backheel. Benzema raced past two defenders and rounded the keeper to score easily in the 57th.
Schalke then lost the ball in midfield in the 69th minute and Sergio Ramos sent Bale through, leaving the forward to slot the ball past Faehrmann and inside the far post.
Ronaldo scored his second by rounding Faehrmann after collecting a pass from Benzema in the 89th.
Schalke, which seemed to have given up long before, still managed a consolation strike. Christian Fuchs sent a cross to the edge of the penalty area and Huntelaar connected with a superb volley, with the ball flying in off the underside of the crossbar.
- RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen promotes Rob Zarkos...
- Player grades: Real Salt Lake's win over...
- RSL newcomer Juan Manuel Martinez excited for...
- Brad Rock: Real Salt Lake has its own 'King...
- Luis Silva quickly making an impact on Real...
- Dominant performance leads Real Salt Lake to...
- Real Salt Lake heading into do-or-die crunch...