Real Madrid came into the Bernabeu Stadium as heavy favorites to extend their Champions League dominance with a comfortable win over Galatasaray.
And courtesy of goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, Real Madrid emerged with exactly that from the first leg of their quarterfinal.
Los Blancos were simply too strong across the park for their Turkish opponents here, crushing them 3-0.
They had a two-goal lead inside the opening half and resigned Galatasaray to the fact that their Champions League dream will be ending this week. Moreover, they did it with such simplicity that suggested Jose Mourinho's side hadn't even started to get out of second gear yet.
It was a truly dominant performance from Madrid, and one that sees them just 90 minutes away from another Champions League semifinal as a result.
Read on to see the top takeaways from Los Blancos' big win.
Madrid Effortless in Victory
It took less than 10 minutes for Madrid to find the back of the net here. And it was none other than Ronaldo who got the scoring going for the home side.
Mesut Ozil picked up a ball beautifully as Los Blancos were pressing forward, and played through a sublime pass to Ronaldo in the attacking third. Then, Ronaldo simply chipped the ball over a helpless goalkeeper and peeled away to celebrate.
That lead would be doubled on the half hour mark when Michael Essien's cross into the box found the feet of Benzema, who duly finished the chance. It was simply too easy for Madrid, with Benzema essentially unmarked in the box.
There were four players on hand—Ronaldo, Benzema and two Galatasaray defenders—when the cross came in, but neither defender picked up an attacker. Ronaldo just missed connecting on a header (unmarked) and Benzema was given the time to trap a cross on his feet before finishing into the bottom corner.
It was this kind of simple, routine discipline that allowed Madrid the easiest of goals.
However, not even that would compare to the simplicity of the third goal where Higuain was allowed a free header in the box off a free kick.
Had he missed it, two other Madrid players (also both free) could have scored.
We can talk all we want about Galatasaray's missed chances, because yes, they did squander some opportunities. But when their discipline and organization at the back was as lackluster as it was in this one, it'd take a brave man to suggest that the Turkish side deserved to win here.
Madrid didn't get out of second gear, and they still won comfortably.
Raphael Varane Continues to Impress for Madrid
Still only 19 years old, Raphael Varane continues to showcase just how strong he is at the back for Real Madrid.
And he had another brilliant performance here.
Up against two very potent strikers in Burak Yilmaz (team's leading goal-scorer) and Didier Drogba (goal-scoring freak and Chelsea legend), Varane more than held his own at the back for Madrid. He proved to be a huge reason behind their clean sheet in this one.
Drogba got the better of Sergio Ramos all night, but every time he was able to break past the Spaniard, the teenage defender was there to clear up.
He was strong in the air and dynamic in bringing the ball out of the back for Madrid. And he did not giving away a single opportunity all night for the home side.
With Ramos missing the second leg due to yellow card suspension, everyone should now look for Varane. He will again showcase his dominance at the back—even in the tough atmosphere of Istanbul—as Madrid move through to the semifinals of the Champions League.
This One is All But Over
But perhaps the biggest talking point coming into this one was that this tie—even after just one leg—is completely and utterly finished for the two sides in question.
Madrid will not lose a three-goal lead. And Galatasaray cannot peg that margin back, so Los Blancos will go through to the semifinals as a result of that.
We'd all somewhat expected it, but with the Turkish side showcasing a lot of attacking strengths and solid away form, it was tough to rule them out completely against Madrid here. However, with the wrong style of play allowing for two early goals, those threats were completely neutralized.
Galatasaray tried to attack Madrid early, and whilst they created some chances, they did not take advantage of them.
And it cost them dearly at the back.
They went for the gamble, but it didn't pay off, and now they head back to Istanbul with the biggest of mountains to climb.
And their team—now without their leading goal-scorer due to suspension—will not even come close to hauling themselves over the top of that mountain.
Madrid did this one comfortably, and you get the feeling that they could have chalked up seven or eight goals in attack had they wanted.
You can all but guarantee Los Blancos will be celebrating this time next week.
Hit me up on Twitter for more sports: Follow @dantalintyre
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!