Madrid: Real Madrid stormed into the Champions League quarter finals with a club record 9-2 aggregate success after Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice in a 3-1 win at home, against Schalke 04, on Tuesday.
Real were virtually assured of a place in the last eight after thrashing the Bundesliga side 6-1 in Gelsenkirchen in the first leg and coach Carlo Ancelotti rested a host of regulars for the return at the Bernabeu with an eye on Sunday’s Clasico against Barcelona.
But the home side still had far too much quality for Schalke, particularly with World Player of the Year Ronaldo in electric form. The Portugal forward’s double took his Champions League haul this season to 13, surpassing his previous best of 12 from the last campaign.
He has 41 in all competitions for Real, the La Liga leaders, and is one short of the Champions League record of 14 set by Barcelona forward Lionel Messi in 2011-12.
Gareth Bale started on the bench but came on for the injured Jese in the eighth minute, and he set up Ronaldo for Real’s 21st-minute opener. Schalke levelled 10 minutes later when a long-range Tim Hoogland effort deflected off Sergio Ramos and bounced past a stranded Iker Casillas.
Ronaldo, who also hit the crossbar and the post, scored his second of the night in the 74th and Alvaro Morata added a third for Real a minute later from another Bale assist.
It was Real’s biggest aggregate Champions League win after beating APOEL Nicosia 8-2 in 2011-12 and they go into Friday’s draw for the last eight, when they could be pitted against La Liga rivals Barca or Atletico Madrid, in ominous shape.
“It’s good for Spanish football to have three teams in the quarter finals and shows it is in good health,” Ancelotti told a news conference.
“We are coming into the Clasico in good form and are very excited about the game. Generally speaking we are full of confidence and motivation.”
They are unbeaten in 31 matches in all competitions since a La Liga defeat to Barca at the end of October and also meet their arch-rivals in next month’s King’s Cup final, raising the prospect of a rare treble.
The world’s richest club are bidding to reach the Champions League semi-finals for a third consecutive season and are chasing the record-extending 10th European crown that has eluded them since they last won in 2002.