SAN DIEGO — Powered by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick, Real Madrid overcame a strong performance from Guadalajara goalkeeper Luis Míchel to run away with a 3-0 at Qualcomm Stadium on Wednesday night.
It took 73 minutes before Ronaldo finally found the net, but when he did, he did so three times in a nine-minute span to give Real Madrid their second win in as many games in the Herbalife World Football Challenge.
Coming into the match, both sides promised a show for the fans — and they didn’t disappoint.
In just the first half, Real Madrid generated 11 attempts on goal, five of which were on target, and two of which belonged to Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar threatened to break open the Guadalajara goal twice in the early going, once through a signature free kick in the sixth minute and two minutes later via a header from a corner kick. Both times, however, Míchel kept Real Madrid's star at bay.
Los Blancos kept Míchel busy throughout the night, as the ‘keeper did well to deflect a potent Karim Benzema volley in the 11th minute and raced off his line to reach a through ball before Ronaldo in the 14th.
As Real Madrid dominated possession on the basis of quick movement and threaded passes, they came close to scoring twice within a span of two minutes. In the 37th, midfielder Esteban Granero sailed a free kick ball into the box that defender Raphael Verane headed low towards the far post, but Michel’s timely dive kept his target from falling.
Two minutes later, Ronaldo wrestled off a defender to reach a through ball from Mezut Özil, but again Michel rushed out to close the angle and force the Portugal man to find side netting.
While Chivas were unable to find much of the sphere, they were still able to trouble Real Madrid’s back line. In the 13th minute, Marco Fabián sent speedy teammate Omar Arellano through on goal. Arellano buried his shot into the net, but the assistant referee ruled him offside by mere inches.
The Mexican side began to settle down midway through the first stanza, and finally, towards the end of the period, generated another dangerous play on goal as Arellano came on to a chipped pass behind the defense. As the striker prepared to put the finishing touch, Varane executed a timely tackle to thwart the danger.
In the second half, it was all Real Madrid again, and they tried to kick it off with a bang. Benzema received a ball at the edge of the box and tried to surprise Míchel with a one-timed shot that rolled two feet wide of the far post.
If Míchel had been big before, then he was huge in the 64th and 69th minutes. First, the Mexico international closed the angle on and stoned Benzema after the Frenchman took a pass from Özil in the box. Then, when Benzema appeared on the right side of the box and unleashed a monstrous shot, Míchel went to a two-handed deflection to keep the match scoreless.
It took just about 73 minutes, but Ronaldo finally broke through the Chivas defense three times in the span of nine minutes.
First, Ronaldo controlled a cross in the box between two defenders and managed to poke the ball underneath Míchel and into the net to give his team the 1-0 lead.
Then, in the 77th minute, Pepe was brought down inside the box and Ronaldo, the assigned PK taker for Real, finally found his second of the night.
Finally, in the 83rd minute, the striker ran onto a ball in the box and sent a hard shot into the goal to complete the hat trick.