GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany – Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti hailed his team's performance as “perfect” after their 6-1 romp at Schalke 04 in Wednesday's Champions League's last 16, first-leg clash.
Real are now all but guaranteed a quarter-final place, even with the return leg in Madrid to come on March 18, after Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale both scored two goals apiece.
Real's Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo also scored twice in the rout on his return from a three-match Spanish league suspension.
“I am satisfied about everything, because the team played a perfect game,” said Ancelotti whose side are now unbeaten in their last 27 games dating back to October.
“After the early goal, we started getting a lot of room, that was the reason for our perfect night.
“It was fantastic, everything went well for us.”
Despite the massive advantage, Ancelotti said the Spanish league leaders will be taking nothing for granted for the return leg.
“There is a return leg to come and football is strange,” he said.
“The advantage is big, but we want to make sure we go through.
“We need to have respect for Schalke and our fans, so we will be putting out our best possible side for the return leg.”
The crushing victory went some way to correcting Real's terrible away record in Germany as they made the Royal Blues of Schalke look anything but regal.
This was only Real's second win in 26 visits to Germany after 18 defeats, including their 4-1 drubbing at Borussia Dortmund in last season's Champions League's semi-final.
“We didn't think about the curse in Germany, but in doing as much as we could to win the game and take control of the tie as quickly as possible,” added Ancelotti.
Ronaldo has now scored 36 goals in 33 games and his brace saw him take over from Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the competition's top-scorer this season with 11 goals.
“The team has played a lot of good games and this is one more,” said Ronaldo.
“We played well and didn't allow Schalke to play at their best. We are happy and a step away from the next round.
“The Schalke goalkeeper did very well and made good saves, but I believe in my ability and my teammates helped me a lot.
“I am very happy to score two goals.”
Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann admitted his side had been outclassed as Real fired in 21 goal attempts compared to 10 by the hosts.
“One save against Ronaldo isn't enough. Real Madrid were a class apart tonight,” said Faehrmann.
“When you start conceding goals, it's almost impossible to come back against Real Madrid.”
Netherlands striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a 91st-minute consolation goal for Schalke.
It did little to prevent the Royal Blues suffering their heaviest defeat in European competition.
“We made too many simple mistakes. After we went 2-0 down it was incredibly hard to come back,” said Schalke coach Jens Keller.
“After that, we should have stood deeper, not to concede so many goals, but this is a young team.”
Schalke wasted a golden chance to make it 1-1 immediately after Benzema had given Real a 13th-minute lead, but teenage midfielder Max Meyer fired over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
“The first 12 minutes were good, we were brave and aggressive and the team was compact,” said Keller.
“We had a huge chance to equalise just after their first goal, but then we just made far too many mistakes.
“All of them were quickly punished and we all saw that Real is a world-class team.” – Sapa-AFP