MADRID (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring as Real Madrid eased to a 4-1 home victory over Ajax in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Already through to the knockout stages from Group D, Madrid took the lead in the 13th minute when Luka Modric won the ball in midfield and passed to Karim Benzema, who crossed for Ronaldo to hit his sixth goal of the competition this season.
Jose Callejon doubled Madrid's lead by beating the offside trap, deftly controlling Modric's pinpoint long pass and firing in off the post in the 28th minute. Kaka added a third in the 49th before Derk Boerrigter pulled a goal back for Ajax, firing into an empty after pouncing on a punched clearance by Madrid goalkeeper Antonio Adan.
Callejon scored his second goal of the night in the 88th. Madrid finished second in the group behind Borussia Dortmund, while the only consolation for Ajax was a place in the Europa League. Kaka looks to have re-established his place in coach Jose Mourinho's squad after a few months on the bench, starting the match as captain.
"This was an important match for me," said Kaka. "I scored a goal and helped the team. It was a special night for me." The Brazil midfielder said his team is ready to face any opposition. "Come February, we will likely have to play against a difficult team that came top of its group and probably thought it would get an easy rival," said Mourinho. "Now some table-topping team is going to get Real Madrid instead."
"What's in our thoughts at the moment is this championship and the Copa (del Rey)," added Mourinho, deliberately not mentioning the Spanish league in which it trails leader Barcelona by 11 points. The home side soon pushed forward and Benzema had a goal ruled out for offside in the seventh minute, while Fabio Coentrao hit the near post four minutes later.
Although Ajax had started brightly, passing the ball with speed and accuracy, Madrid's midfield strength and finishing ability soon began to take its toll on the Dutch side as Ronaldo and Callejon found the net.
Coentrao meanwhile looked progressively more uncomfortable and appeared to have a problem with his hamstring before being substituted at the back by fellow Portugal international Pepe in the 23rd minute.
Madrid could have been 3-0 up at the break as Benzema picked out Modric in midfield and the Croat fired in a volley that goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer managed to stop in the 41st minute. Having traded goals after the re-start, Callejon scored his second from a pinpoint cross from the far right by Alvaro Morata.