When Cristiano Ronaldo is on fire, nobody can stop him, especially from scoring hat-tricks.
Ronaldo proved a cut above the rest, especially against city rivals Atletico Madrid, on Wednesday as his treble powered Real Madrid to an emphatic 3-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
The composure was there. The focus, too. And above all, his ferocity in front of goal was in full show for adoring home fans to savour.
If the final scoreline were to be summed up, Atletico were simply outplayed, outgunned and outclassed.
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner became the first player to score 50 goals in the knockout stages of the tournament following his 10th-minute header off a cross from Casemiro.
And so we thought he’d stop from there? No way, if he is feeling unstoppable and on beast mode.
His second strike was a powerful shot from 16 yards that whizzed past Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
The icing on the victory cake, his third goal, was an easy one. He controlled Lucas Vasquez’s cross before slotting the ball home as the raucous crowd cheered themselves hoarse.
His other two goals came in the 73rd and 86th, as Zinedine Zidane’s men completely stamped their superiority over Atletico who probably wondered what went wrong after the match.
Before kick-off, Madrid fans unfurled a huge banner celebrating the 2014 and 2016 final victories of their beloved club and this inspired Ronaldo and his teammates no end.
The 32-year-old Ronaldo, the top scorer in the history of the Champions League with 103 goals, has now scored one more goal – 52 – in the knockout stages than in the group stages.
So far, he has netted eight goals in his past three matches in the tournament, and has 13 semifinal goals under his belt.
This was a match Atletico would rather forget. They had only one shot on target to underscore their woeful stand.
Diego Simeone and his men appear totally broken after the debacle.
They now head to Vicente Calderon Stadium to prepare for the second leg on May 11 with plenty to ponder, first of all on how to solve a problem like Ronaldo.
Enjoying a commanding lead, Ronaldo and Co. will be going for the kill on enemy territory.
If they do so, they are so close to keeping the title and being crowned kings of European football again.
Do we see Cardiff beckoning for Los Blancos?