Karim Benzema opened the scoring with his 200th club goal before Casemiro doubled the visitors’ advantage. Real Madrid scored four first-half goals to cruise past Viktoria Plzen and go top of Champions League Group G.
Benzema then headed a second from close range before Gareth Bale rounded off the half with a left-footed strike. Madrid were dominating throughout and Toni Kroos added an impressive fifth after the break when he chipped Ales Hruska from inside the area.
Victory for the holders was new manager Santiago Solari’s third consecutive win since taking charge after Julen Lopetegui was sacked last month. The La Liga side can qualify for the knockout stages with a draw against Roma in their next game, should CSKA Moscow fail to beat Plzen.
Solari does his chances no harm
The current Real Madrid manager has only been in the job three matches after stepping up from the club’s B team – Real Madrid Castilla – after Lopetegui’s sacking. He has made a good start with Madrid, winning all of his games so far, scoring 11 goals and keeping three clean sheets.
Despite missing the likes of Marcelo and Raphael Varane, the Real defence had little to deal with in Pilsen as the visitors enjoyed 62% possession.
However, Madrid may have found themselves lucky not to go down to 10 men after captain Sergio Ramos escaped punishment when he appeared to raise an elbow in a challenge with Milan Havel, leaving the 24-year-old with a bloody nose.
The club’s hierarchy appeared to make it clear when Solari was appointed that it would only be temporary measure, and the new boss will face tougher challenges than the three sides he has played against so far, but he will become increasingly tough to replace if he continues to win matches.
Zinedine Zidane’s route to the first team came through the Castilla, and that may just be playing in the back of Real president Florentino Perez‘s mind.
Benzema joins the 200 club – the stats
- With his first goal, Karim Benzema became the seventh different player to score 200 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid – doing so in 429 appearances.
- Real Madrid have won by a 5+ goal margin away from home in the Champions League for the fourth occasion – also doing so versus Galatasaray (6-1) in September 2013, versus FC Schalke (6-1) 04 in February 2014 and against APOEL Nicosia (6-0) in November 2017.
- Viktoria Plzen have lost three consecutive matches in major European competition for the first time since November 2015.
- Gareth Bale has been directly involved in 10 goals in his last eight Champions League group stage games for Real Madrid (five goals, five assists).
Source: BBC News