Real Madrid will head to Paris for their pivotal second leg clash with some much needed confidence, after ultimately overcoming local rivals Getafe at a somewhat bare Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid will head to Paris for their pivotal second leg clash with some much needed confidence, after ultimately overcoming local rivals Getafe at a somewhat bare Santiago Bernabeu. Yet again, it was Ronaldo who was the difference, as he netted his 300th and 301st La Liga goals to secure all three points.
All the build up before the game was dominated by Zidane's team selection ahead of the UEFA Champions League tie, and the Frenchman chose a reasonably strong side, notably handing Gareth Bale a chance to reassure him of his importance to the side.
Real started slowly, with any promising build up play eventually smothered by a Getafe defence boasting the third best record in La Liga, and have four clean sheets in their last five games. In fact, it was the 10th placed side who had the first chance of the game, with top scorer Angel Rodriguez firing straight at Keylor Navas after a probing solo break.
However, Los Blancos were unlucky when their first genuine chance was halted harshly by the referee. After some uncharacteristic dithering on the ball by a Getafe defender, youngster Marcus Llorente looked to have snatched the ball off him fairly in a dangerous position, but the officials saw otherwise.
Minutes later, their luck was restored, as a searching dink from Karim Benzema fell kindly - possibly via Isco's arm - to Bale, who cooly dispatched the ball into the right hand corner of the net to settle any nerves that may have been felt around the Bernabeu, including his own.
While the score did seem to loosen the champions, and they were able to string together a few flowing passing moves, the game was largely hindered by the plethora free kicks that unsettled any rhythm that may have been found.
Nevertheless, just before half time, Cristiano Ronaldo effectively settled the tie, with his 300th La Liga goal in an astonishing 286 matches, after a cleve pass from Karim Benzema put him in. All that was left for the forward to do was create the space for a shot, which he duly did, before firing the ball through the legs of an on-rushing defender and into the back of the net.
However, after only a couple of glimpses at goal in the first period, Getafe started the second half with intent, matching their chances output from the previous half inside the first two minutes. However, their newfound vigour was quickly dealt a blow, with former Chelsea striker Loic Remy senselessly grappling Nacho at his neck, to garner his second yellow card.
Yet, as has too often been the case this season, the hosts took their foot off the gas too abruptly, and their numerically reduced opponents pounced. Substitute Jorge Molina skilfully broke on the counter, before he was brought down inside the box by the pursuing Nacho.
Contentiously, replays showed the center-back's challenge to be a fairly clean one, but the decision was made, and Portillo slotted the resulting penalty with aplomb.
Reinvigorated, Madrid immediately sought to restore their two goal advantage, and with the lively introduction of Marcelo, they soon thought they had. Ronaldo rose highest to bundle the ball into the net, but was adjudged to have illegally pushed his marker in the process.
Typically, the five time Ballon d'Or winner was not be denied, and it was that man Marcelo who was unsurprisingly his provider, with another perfect cross just ten minutes later. This time, Ronaldo rose using his own propulsion, and clinically guided the ball beyond Martinez for the third time on the night to collect his second goal.
With any scent of a Getafe resurrection snuffed out, the game effectively evolved into an audition for a starting place against the Parisians, with Asensio producing a lively cameo. However, it was Gareth Bale who may have profited the most in this respect, with a second goal the only thing missing from a strong all round display from the Welshman.