Brazilian teenager Rodrygo announced himself on the European stage with a stunning hat-trick as Real Madrid dispatched Galatasaray 6-0 to take a significant step towards the last 16 of the Champions League.
With Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez both unavailable, Rodrygo started his fourth straight game for Los Blancos, and made his mark early on. He struck twice in the opening seven minutes, converting two crosses from fellow countryman Marcelo as Real got off to a blistering start.
They continued to assert their dominance as Toni Kroos earned the hosts a penalty, which Sergio Ramos scored courtesy of a trademark chipped finish into the roof of the net in the 14th minute.
Karim Benzema tapped home Rodrygo’s cross shortly before the break to make it 4-0, and added his side’s fifth late on with another simple finish. There was just enough time for Benzema to set up Rodrygo to poke home the final goal, completing his hat-trick with the final kick of the game to round off an impressive performance from the Spanish giants.
Key Talking Point
Zinedine Zidane’s side were held to a frustrating goalless draw at home to Real Betis on the weekend, increasing the pressure on the Frenchman following an inconsistent start to the season. He will have wanted a response from his side. He got it.
Real were wasteful in front of goal on Saturday, but showed their ruthless side here, scoring four times in the first half, with their front three looking in fine form.
Despite failing to hit top form in the early stages of the season, Real are still level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga and are now on the brink of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Not bad for a team that have appeared in crisis at times in recent months.
Having enjoyed a hugely successful first spell in charge, Zidane appears to finally be getting the best out of his players once more.
Starting XI: Courtois (6); Carvajal (6), Varane (6), Ramos (7), Marcelo (8); Casemiro (6), Kroos (7), Valverde (6); Rodrygo (9*), Hazard (7), Benzema (7).
Substitutes: Mendy (6), Modric (6), Isco (6).
STAR PLAYER – Have Brazil got another star on their hands? They have produced plenty of exceptional talents over the years, and it may be premature to start comparing Rodrygo to those who have gone before, but the 18-year-old is certainly one to keep an eye on.
His first goal here was far from simple, but he took the ball down with minimal fuss before firing home a half-volley with his left foot. His second was also expertly taken, as he timed his run to perfection before nodding the ball into the corner of the net, whilst his final strike was a purely instinctive strike as he latched onto Benzema’s through ball.
The young winger probably did not expect to be getting this many opportunities so early on in his time in the Spanish capital, but he has certainly made the most of chance. He struggled to make the squad in the opening couple of months of the season, yet he is now an established member of the first team. When Bale does return, he may have a fight on his hands to regain his place in the side.
18y 301d – Rodrygo has become the second youngest player to score a #UCL hat-trick, after Raul against Ferencvarosi in October 1995 (18y 113d). Hero.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 6, 2019
Starting XI: Muslera (7); Mariano (5), Luyindama (6), Marcao (5), Nagatomo (5); Seri (5), Nzonzi (4), Lemina (6); Feghouli (6), Babel (6), Andone (5).
Substitutes: Donk (6), Bayram (6), Buyuk (6).
Real Madrid return to league action on the weekend when they travel to Eibar for their final game before the international break.
Galatasaray will look to bounce back from their humbling defeat when they face Gaziantep on Saturday. They will be hoping to close the gap to current league leaders Alanyaspor.