Galatasaray vs. Real Madrid: Final score 3-2 (3-5), Real Madrid lose in Istanbul but advance anyway

Alex Livesey

Sitting on a 3-0 aggregate lead, Real Madrid were hardly going to fail to make it past Galatasaray, but Ronaldo's 8th minute goal made the rest of the match in Istanbul a formality, despite the hosts' repeated attempts to make things interesting.

Real Madrid are through to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League after a straightforward match against Galatasaray in Istanbul. Already up 3-0 from the first leg, the heavy favourites advanced 2-3 (5-3) thanks to an eighth-minute strike from Cristiano Ronaldo, although a second-half response from the hosts gave Jose Mourinho and company a huge scare in the process.

An impressive run from Ronaldo sparked a break which almost provided the visitors with the ideal start, with the star winger turning past the Galatasaray midfield and releasing Angel di Maria on the right. His through ball nearly found Gonzalo Higuain, but Fernando Muslera punted clear -- and straight back to di Maria. The subsequent shot clipped off Muslera's right boot and just behind for a corner.

Madrid made di Maria's miss irrelevant five minutes later when Sami Khedira's low cross was turned in by Ronaldo from four yards out. That away goal meant that Gala would need five goals to advance, which would make for the most implausible comeback in Champions League history -- especially without suspended striker Burak Yilmaz.

Ronaldo nearly made things even worse for the hosts shortly thereafter when he thumped a long-ranger into Muslera's midriff, and although Galatasaray made a few forays forward it was abundantly clear that they weren't going to drop five goals on the Madrid defence, who were by now treating the match as an extended training session. Di Maria nearly made it 2-0 after a stunning backheel from Ronaldo only to be denied by an outstretched arm from Muslera.

A hamstring problem forced Michael Essien off for Alvaro Arbeloa with 31 minutes gone, but the right back's injury didn't do anything to derail Real. Wesley Sneijder could have made things slightly interesting, but his low drive was covered well by Diego Lopez, that save being his only action of note all half.

Just after the break, Ronaldo squandered a fine chance to make it 2-0 when di Maria played a pass similar to Khedira's first-half assist only to see the goalscorer fail to dig the ball out from under his feet. Had Madrid not been 4-0 up at the time, they'd have been annoyed at the miss, because Emmanuel Eboue levelled the score on the night with a stupendous right-footed shot that went screaming past Lopez and straight into the top corner.

Galatasaray needed four more to advance, however, and it didn't look as through they were in luck. Sneijder hurt the cause with an embarrassing miss after being found by a horrendous pass attempt from Fabio Coentrao eight yards out and with the goal at his mercy and Didier Drogba didn't do much better from a similar position a little while later (although Drogba's failure to score was understandable, since the shot came on the volley and Pepe was busy kicking him as he tried to hit it).

And then the tide suddenly turned.

Sneidjer made up for his hilarious miss in the 70th minute by dismantling Raphael Varane and slotting past Lopez to make it 2-1, and then Drogba brought the tie to within a goal by finishing up a cross with an absolutely ludicrous backheel. That strike made it 4-3 Madrid, and with two goals to find in 18 minutes, it looked like we could be set up for a tense finish.

Things got even weirder when Arbeloa managed to get two yellow cards in a thirty second span, the second for dissent, and Madrid were forced to defend with ten for the last four minutes of the match. But two goals were still required, and as Galatasaray poured men forward, Ronaldo killed off the match and tie after receiving a cutback from Karim Benzema and slotting home in injury time.

Semifinals ahoy!

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