MADRID (AFP) – Real Madrid put their La Liga woes behind them to get their defence of the Champions League off to a flying start with a 5-1 hammering of Basel on Tuesday.
The hosts, who had suffered a second consecutive league defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid at the weekend, went in front thanks to Marek Suchy’s own goal and then struck three times in six minutes to end the game as a contest.
Gareth Bale finished off a lovely move involving Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo before Ronaldo and James Rodriguez tapped home from close range.
Derlis Gonzalez pulled a goal back for the visitors moments later, but Karim Benzema rounded off the scoring for Real with a thumping finish late on.
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti resisted calls for widespread changes following his side’s third defeat in six games this season with fullbacks Marcelo and Nacho the only new faces from the side that started against Atletico.
However, Nacho had a big role to play in the opening goal on 14 minutes as he raced onto Rodriguez’s lovely backheel and fired in a low cross that Suchy could only direct into his own net.
Basel skipper Marco Streller nearly levelled immediately as he drilled into the side-netting from a narrow angle.
However, Real were gaining momentum as the half wore on and Tomas Vaclik had to make fine saves from Modric and Pepe before the three-goal blitz arrived.
Bale registered his second goal of the season when he was set free by a wonderful through ball by Modric with the outside of his foot and the Welshman lobbed the ball over the advancing Vaclik before slotting home.
It was 3-0 moments later when Modric fed Bale once more and this time he squared for Ronaldo to finish.
And Rodriguez rounded off his most encouraging display since sealing a big-money move from Monaco as the World Cup’s top scorer was left with a simple task after Vaclik could only parry Benzema’s initial effort.
Basel stuck to their task impressively and responded with a goal of real quality as Luca Zuffi picked out Gonzalez’s run and the Paraguayan arrowed a shot across Iker Casillas and into the far corner.
There were more encouraging signs for Basel at the start of the second half as Real’s intensity dropped and Casillas had to make an important save to prevent Gonzalez scoring his second of the evening after an error from substitute Raphael Varane.
Bale should then have teed up Ronaldo for his double instead of going alone when clean through as Vaclik made another impressive stop with his feet.