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Job almost done for Madrid, Dortmund denied


Paris: Real Madrid all but secured their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League with a 3-0 defeat of Galatasaray in their quarter-final first leg, while Malaga and Borussia Dortmund played out a goalless draw.

Jose Mourinho's side were just too strong for the Turkish league leaders, opening the scoring through Cristiano Ronaldo in the ninth minute and never looking back on a wet night at the Santiago Bernabeu yesterday.

Ronaldo neatly chipped visiting goalkeeper Fernando Muslera for his ninth European goal of the season, before Karim Benzema justified Mourinho's decision to select him in the starting line-up by sweeping home a cross from Michael Essien - a surprise starter at right-back - to double Real's
lead just before the half-hour mark.

A Galatasaray side containing former Champions League winners - and Mourinho proteges - Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba, as well as in-form striker Burak Yilmaz, could offer little for their huge travelling support to shout about, and the concession of a third goal in the 73rd minute effectively ended their hopes of turning the tie around.

Gonzalo Higuain, who had replaced Benzema eight minutes earlier, neatly headed in a Xabi Alonso free-kick to put the seal on a highly satisfactory evening for the nine-time European champions.

"I think we put in a serious performance," said Mourinho.

"The Spanish press were not so respectful of Galatasaray before the game but we respected them. We knew they had fantastic strikers so we prepared well, and defended better than we attacked."

The Portuguese insisted that bookings picked up by Alonso and Sergio Ramos, ruling both out of the second leg, were not deliberately provoked in order to make them available for the semi-finals.

He also insisted the tie is not yet over, despite the comfortable cushion.

"The result is very good, but I've seen so many incredible things in football that nothing can surprise me," he added.

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