Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04’s hopes of progressing beyond the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League were all-but ended following a demoralising 6-1 first-leg defeat to Real Madrid CF.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar grabbed the goal of the night, but it was the performances of Madrid triumvirate Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo that will provide all the talking points on the back pages in the morning.

Real strike twice


Barely a minute had passed when Schalke captain Benedikt Höwedes glanced Jefferson Farfan’s outswinging corner inches wide of Iker Casillas’ right-hand post. The Royal Blues looked happy to allow the visitors to keep possession, but it was a ploy that backfired as Benzema stroked home after a driving run from Bale in the 13th minute

Schalke went in search of an immediate equaliser and would have been on level terms were it not for the cat-like reactions of Casillas, who put his body on the line to foil Julian Draxler’s close-range volley. It was a telling save from the Spanish international, with Real promptly stretching their lead courtesy of Bale’s bulldozing run and clever finish.

Ronaldo dictates


Ronaldo rattled the upright and drew a smart save out of Ralf Fährmann either side of a rare Schalke foray involving Höwedes and Farfan, before Benzema went within a whisker of adding his second late in the half. There was still time for one final Madrid attack, but Ronaldo was unable to find a way past Fährmann.

Die Knappen needed a goal, but there was simply no beating Casillas, who proved his worth with a flying save to keep out Kevin-Prince Boateng’s rising drive. Real responded like only they know how, with Ronaldo giving Joel Matip the step-over treatment and slamming in the goal his menacing performance deserved.

Huntelaar stunner


By now it had become somewhat of an exercise in damage limitation for the disconsolate hosts, but there was simply no stopping La Liga’s rampant high rollers. Ronaldo was again a yard ahead of his nearest marker, paving the way for Benzema to race clear and sink his second of the night.

Worse was to come when Sergio Ramos squeezed a clever ball between Sead Kolasinac and Felipe Santana for the run of Bale, who doubled his tally with aplomb. To their credit, the Schalke fans refused to lay down and were given something to cheer when Huntelaar smashed an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net two minutes after Ronaldo had made it six.

Line-ups:

Schalke: Fährmann - Höwedes, Matip , Felipe Santana, Kolasinac (Fuchs 75') – K-P. Boateng (Goretzka 58'), Neustädter - Farfan (Obasi 71'), M. Meyer , Draxler - Huntelaar

Real Madrid: Casillas - Carvajal , Pepe , Sergio Ramos, Marcelo - Xabi Alonso (Illarrmendi 72') - Modric , di Maria (Isco 67') - Bale (Jese 79'), Benzema , Cristiano Ronaldo

Goals: 0-1 Benzema (12'), 0-2 Bale (20'), Ronaldo (51'), Benzema (56'), Bale (68'), Ronaldo (88'), 1-6 Huntelaar (90')

Christopher Mayer-Lodge