Real Madrid 6-2 Dinamo Zagreb: Ronaldo-less Los Blancos run riot
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho rested some big names but his side had little trouble despatching Dinamo Zagreb 6-2 in their Champions League Group D clash at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu last night.
Three goals in the opening nine minutes from Karim Benzema, José María Callejón and Mesut Özil ended the game as a contest and Gonzalo Higuaín added the fourth before the first quarter was up.
Callejón and Benzema both scored again in the second half as Los Blancos sealed top spot and therefore avoided some of the big guns in the last 16.
Mourinho said after the game that his team’s whirlwind start had shocked the relatively inexperienced Croatian visitors. "We did not give them any time to settle down and get into the match, to feel the match. We just started and smashed them immediately."
As expected the Portuguese coach had handed Turkish midfielder Nuri Şahin a full Madrid debut, and also named Antonio Adán in goal, Raphaël Varane at centre-half and José María Callejón on the wing.
Iker Casillas and Cristiano Ronaldo were on the bench, while Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso played just the first half.
Mourinho said he was satisfied with how his squad players had performed when given their chance. “I saw a team with a lot of hunger to win the points."
"The players who came were very motivated to play well and play seriously and they did that. Because of the way they work in training, it was not a surprise."
Visiting coach Krunoslav Jurčic set out to keep things tight by selecting Beqiraj alone up front. However, neither the Montenegrin international nor a team-mate had gained possession of the ball before Madrid scored after just 85 seconds.
From the kick-off they moved the ball confidently back and forth until Özil found space and teed up Benzema to shoot home from ten yards.
Madrid’s second was also not long in coming. Özil switched the play, Callejón headed on to Benzema and took the return pass before firing in from 20 yards.
The third was all Higuaín’s work as the Argentine ran into the box, cut back from the end-line and dinked a beautiful finish over the sprawling Croatian keeper Ivan Kelava.
Thoughts now turned to Madrid’s record win in the competition (9-0 v Odense in 1963), and even the biggest ever win by any club in the competition (11-0 for Dinamo Bucharest against Northern Irish side Crusaders in 1973-74).
One or both seemed a real possibility on 20 minutes when Kelava saved Higuaín’s firmly struck effort and Özil calmly scored the fourth from the rebound.
The keeper was again in action soon afterwards, saving well from Fábio Coentrão and doing even better to tip Benzema’s curler over.
With the watching Cristiano Ronaldo perhaps itching to improve his chances of retaining the European Golden Boot award, Mourinho instead introduced Esteban Granero, Hamit Altintop and Raúl Albiol at the break.
Mourinho said afterwards his countryman had not minded sitting this one out. "Cristiano, Pepe and Casillas were sitting behind me and enjoying the game," he said. "When we scored the third goal I heard Cristiano say he would not get on now."
The fifth arrived when Varane’s long ball set Callejón free to slot past Kelava. The Croatian keeper, who impressed throughout, then saved well from Higuaín and Callejón before Benzema took Higuain's back-heel in his stride and fired low into the corner for number six.
As the 65,415 crowd inside the Bernabéu began to pour happily home, Madrid switched off early and allowed two late consolations. Beqiraj’s neat header and Tomečak’s scrambled effort were just reward for the travelling fans’ impressively loud support.
Mourinho said he was not overly disappointed that his players had lost focus at the end. "We relaxed and lost a bit of concentration, which is totally normal," he said. "I usually prefer to win 4-0 than 6-2, but I believe today people are happier with 6-2."
Although Dinamo remain bottom of the Group D table with no points from five games, the Croatian’s coach Krunoslav Jurčic was not too down when he talked to the press after the game.
"We came here to learn something," Jurčic said. "One day we will be able to play against teams like this one. Mourinho told me he hopes to see us again in the competition next year."