Champions League - Real hit Zagreb for six

Tue, 22 Nov 22:11:00 2011

Real Madrid clinched top spot in Champions League Group D with an emphatic 6-2 win at home to Dinamo Zagreb.

Callejón Kelava Real Madrid Dinamo Zagreb Champions 2011-2012 - 0

A mostly second-string Los Blancos side surged four goals ahead within the opening 20 minutes courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema, Jose Callejon, Gonzalo Higuain and Mesut Ozil.

Real looked on course to surpass their record home result in Europe when Callejon and Benzema bagged braces in the second half to make it six, but a late flurry from Dinamo through Fatos Beciraj and substitute Ivan Tomecak were the first goals the Spaniards had conceded in the tournament this season.

It also marked the very first time the Croats had scored in the Champions League, but it proved scant consolation for the club who will finish rock bottom of the group.

Though Jose Mourinho made wholesale changes with qualification to the knockout stages already sealed, his fringe stars were hungry to make a statement and did so after just one minute and 17 seconds.

Benzema completed a stylish give-and-go with Ozil on the left-hand edge of the box before moving inside the area to complete the move with a well-placed shot low into the far corner.

The last thing Dinamo coach Krunoslav Jurčić would have wanted was for his side to go behind early, but things went from bad to worse in the sixth minute.

Ozil’s cross-field pass sparked a lightning-fast break from the hosts which saw Benzema double up with Callejon to eventually tee up the home-grown midfielder to unleash an unstoppable drive for goal number two.

The Zagreb defence barely had time to regroup when two became three on eight minutes, this time with Higuain capping off a good move forward on the right by makeshift full-back Lassana Diarra.

The Argentine forward made a fool of marker Leandro Cufre before effortlessly chipping the third over the increasingly-frustrated Ivan Kelava in goal, as the Galacticos threatened to open up a cricket score.

The game settled into a more relaxed tempo from there, and the visitors had a few shots closed down, but on the 20 minute mark a fourth name was added to the scoresheet.

Kelava may well have gained a little confidence when he denied Higuain a second with a decent parry, but the ball fell to the feet of Ozil who measured the game’s next goal from the rebound.

The Croatian champions were further frustrated when they were denied a free-kick on the edge of the box – and a certain straight red card for Diarra – when the former Chelsea and Arsenal man appeared to bring down a clean-through Beciraj inside the ‘D’.

However, the striker’s dramatic and belated fall to ground in response to minimal contact appeared to be enough to convince Irish official Alan Kelly that there was nothing to the incident.

Mourinho used all three substitutions at half-time, meaning Cristiano Ronaldo would sit out the entire game. Not that they needed him, with Callejon continuing to embrace the spotlight early in the second 45.

Beating the offside trap to collect a ball dinked over the defence, he coolly slotted away his second inside the near post on 49 minutes and almost sealed a hat-trick in spectacular fashion on the hour only for Kelava to get a hand to his audacious chip at an angle.

A quick one-two between Benzema and Higuain led to the Frenchman scoring again on 66 for goal number six, and much like Callejon he was denied a chance at a spectacular third soon after, this time the crossbar playing foil to his dynamic scissors kick.

But while defeat was a certainty for the underdogs, they were able to take a smaller scalp in the final 10 minutes in the form of Real’s record of clean sheets in the group stages.

Beciraj headed home a great cross from Luis Ibanez on 81 minutes before Tomecak added a second in the final minute of regulation time from close range after a rare display of hesitant defending from Real allowed Milan Badelj to cross for the sub to tap in.

Their respective Champions League fates completely sealed at opposite ends of the table, Madrid and Zagreb now have the fate of Ajax and Lyon in their hands as they strive for the final qualification spot on matchday six.

Liam Happe / Eurosport

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