Champions League - Swaggering Ronaldo shoots down Ajax
Real Madrid further proved their Champions League credentials as a stand-out performance from Cristiano Ronaldo inspired them to a convincing 4-0 win over Ajax at the Amsterdam ArenA.
Ronaldo netted twice after the break to add to first-half goals by Karim Benzema and Alvaro Arbeloa as Jose Mourinho's side eased into the knockout phase as Group G winners.
The result never seemed in doubt as Real seized control of the game from the first whistle and put in a performance that will only increase the belief that the club's nine-year wait for European success can come to an end this season.
The only blot on an otherwise perfect night for the Spanish side was the needless dismissals of both Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos as time ran out, both for second bookable offences.
For Ajax, the result, coupled with Milan's victory in Auxerre, ended their hopes of progressing into the last 16.
Real were deprived of Gonzalo Higuain and Sami Khedira, both ruled out through injury, and Mourinho opted to make five changes to his side, but the XI that took to the field was far from second-string.
Indeed, their dominance throughout was total as Ronaldo and Benzema led the line brilliantly and gave the hosts' defence a real headache from the first whistle.
Ronaldo was clearly up for it, and as early as the sixth minute, he combined with Benzema to fashion a shooting chance for Pedro Leon, who deliberated too long over his shot which was eventually blocked.
Ronaldo then fashioned a chance for Mesut Ozil as he gave Gregory Van der Wiel a torrid time on the Madrid left, but again the shot was blocked.
Meanwhile Benzema was providing a real threat through the middle, and the Frenchman was twice denied by Maarten Stekelenburg saves before he eventually got his name on the scoresheet.
It was nothing less than Madrid deserved and perhaps the only surprise about the goal was that it had taken 36 minutes to arrive. It stemmed from a quickly taken free-kick which Alonso clipped forward for Ozil, who showed his class with a volleyed backheel down to Benzema. The France international did the rest and finished with aplomb.
Madrid deservedly doubled their lead before the half was out, Arbeloa sending a sensational 30-yard drive into the back of the net, via a slight deflection of an Ajax heel.
The visitors started the second half in very much the same vein as they had ended the first - on the front foot and threatening to add more to their tally.
Ronaldo's brilliant burst forward nearly resulted in a third - only Stekelenburg smart save kept him at bay - but the Portuguese was not to be denied for long.
A brief scare followed as Iker Casillas was called into action for the first and only time to keep out Jan Vertonghen's powerful free-kick, but Real hit back straight away to blow Ajax out of the water.
Ronaldo got the goal he richly deserved, bringing down Angel Di Maria's cross before firing across Stekelenburg and into the back of the net.
Ozil then stung the fingers of the Ajax keeper from a free-kick before the Germany international was brought down in the box by a clumsy Urby Emanuelson challenge, handing Ronaldo the opportunity to complete a double from the spot.
The former Manchester United man duly obliged, and in supreme style, with a dink straight down the middle that made it four.
With the game over as a contest, the events of the final five minutes were nothing short of bizarre. First Alonso and then Ramos received their marching orders after picking up second bookings for blatant time-wasting.
Both players will now miss the final group match against Auxerre, though both will have one yellow to carry through to the knockout stage instead of two. Neither appeared too disappointed with their dismissals.