Real Madrid 7-1 Osasuna: Cristiano Ronaldo bags fourth hat-trick of the season
An estimated global TV audience of 250 million, and a sleepy then angry then content 80,000 crowd inside the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, saw Real Madrid hammer Osasuna 7-1 in Sunday's early La Liga tie.
A Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick, Karim Benzema double and goals from Pepe and Gonzalo Higuaín brought an easy win for the league leaders, although Ibra gave the visitors brief hope in the first half.
Madrid’s fans were not put off by the noon kick-off introduced this season to help supporters based in the Far East watch live televised La Liga games.
The game took a while to get going however and it was mostly quiet inside the stadium until, that is, Ronaldo expertly flicked Di María’s precise cross past Fernández midway through the first half.
Madrid were on top without having stretched themselves, but then Osasuna briefly threatened. Iranian midfielder Javad Nekounam shot wide while whistling fans wanted play stopped as Pepe lay prone in the centre circle.
Referee Alfonso Álvarez Izquierdo was even more unpopular a moment later when, with Pepe still off the pitch, on-loan Atlético winger Ibrahima rolled the ball past Casillas after a quickly taken free-kick.
That woke everyone up, although Osasuna’s parity only lasted three minutes. Pepe returned and appeared at the back past to head in another Di María cross. It was 3-1 before half-time as Higuaín turned superbly inside the area and measured a curler into the far top corner.
The Bernabéu relaxed again. After the break Mesut Özil broke quickly and appeared clean through until Satrústegui took him out. Izquierdo flashed his red card and Ronaldo slid in the penalty.
It was 5-1 as Ronaldo got his hat-trick with another expertly placed header from Álvaro Arbeloa’s clipped assist, before Benzema calmly controlled Coentrão’s cross and sidefooted in soon after.
The French striker, overshadowed by Higuian's stunning form of late, added his second and his team’s seventh when he took Árbeloa’s pass and rifled past Fernández.
In his post-match conference Madrid boss Jose Mourinho said the first half had been testing for his players. “Osasuna arrived very well organised, were tight at the back and had two fast players up front.
"They caused us difficulties, but we knew how to react to their goal and we finished the first half very strongly. After the sending off, it could have been eight or nine, but the result does not reflect how the game began.”
Mourinho was bouyed by the return to fitness of Turkish midfielder Nuri Sahin, a summer signing from Borussia Dortmund who was introduced for his Madrid debut and curled a 25 yard free-kick.
The only worrying moment for Los Blancos was Di María being stretchered off with a hamstring injury which is set to force the Argentine out of the the upcoming international break at least.
Mourinho said the early kick off had not been a problem for his team. “The people like it,” he said. “And for me the most important people in football are those who pay - the fans.”