Real Madrid thrashed lowly Coratian side Dinamo Zagreb 6-2 to secure their spot atop their group in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night. Goals from Karim Benzema (2), Gonzalo Higuaín, José Callejón (2) and Mesut Özil secured the win for los blancos, as group rivals Ajax and Olympique Lyonnais drew 0-0.
Madrid managed to make some history during the thrashing, locking down the game with the fastest three goals ever scored in the UEFA Champions League--strikes from Benzema in the second minute, Callejón in the sixth, and Higuaín in the ninth set the record at nine minutes. Within ten minutes, Real Madrid set another record, when Mesut Özil's goal in the 20th minute made them the fastest team in the history of the Champions League to lead by four goals.
The fact is that Dynamo was hugely overmatched, and outclassed at the Bernabéu: all the remnants of Madrid's 0-1 barely-a-win in Croatia were wiped out within seconds, as Nuri Sahin and Xabi Alonso orchestrated a couple of brilliant attacks through the center of the pitch and down the left wing. Benzema's first came after a series of magnificent interactions in the center of the pitch courtesy of Xabi, Sahin, Özil, Higuaín and Fabio Coentrão, who didn't lose control of the ball until it was in the net.The second, only four minutes later, was an equally beautiful goal, as the whole team seemed to move in sync as the ball drifted inexorably towards Dinamo's poor, frightened keeper. But seriously, I don't mean to be poetic--that's what the first twenty minutes of the match looked like (well, really the whole thing). Callejón finished off the move with a powerful blast from just inside the area to put the match even further out of reach for Zagreb.
Higuaín's strike in the ninth minute was more of an individual effort: the whole team was involved in getting him the ball in the area, but it was all "Pipita" as he juked two in the box, and caught the keeper napping with a ridiculous chip from close range. It looked like the kind of goal you'd score on FIFA 12 or PES if you stuck the setting on "Easy" and took every shot as a chip. Brilliant.
After those frenetic first 10 minutes, Madrid calmed down a bit, looking to score often, but perhaps not with as much intensity as before. Don't get me wrong, the ball still looked like it was being magnetically drawn towards Dinamo's goal, but maybe someone had replaced one of the magnets with a smaller one (hey, conspiracy theorists, ever toss this one around? Maybe Rajoy's victory in the general election in Spain ushered in a new era where we put magnets in balls and draw them towards the goals of teams that are playing Madrid! Oh NO!).
Özil's goal in the 20th minute was almost more the product of inertia than of any deep, brilliant display of skill: sure, Madrid created tons of pressure down the left flank, quickly allowing "Pipita" to slash in and blast a shot, but the ball bounced off the keeper (maybe his first save of the day) and straight to Mesut. 4-0, and the game had already been over for ten minutes.
The rest of the match played out on the same script, more or less: Madrid attacking, Dinamo defending, Karim Benzema almost scoring. His epic overhead blast in the second half would have put a cap on one of his best performances as a madridista. And that's saying something--this kid can score.
Dinamo's goals in the last few minutes were more of an afterthought than anything, as Madrid's players were clearly thinking about this weekend's tilt with Atlético Madrid in the Bernabéu. Still, as everyone knows, José Mourinho will be kicking his team for conceding at all.
Yet, with the score 6-0 (and after this kind of match), I find allowing a couple goals to be a lot more palatable than under other circumstances.