Ronaldo’s treble, Higuain's brace decide 1st leg of Champions semifinals

Celebrations for Real MadridCristiano Ronaldo can’t stop scoring big goals in bunches for Real Madrid. After reaching 100 Champions League goals with a 3-goal performance in the second leg of their quarterfinal tie against Bayern Munich, Ronaldo put on a scoring clinic again Tuesday in the first leg of the semifinal with a treble in a 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid established itself as the frontrunner of the remaining four clubs with a dominant performance against its crosstown rivals. Atletico was limited to four shot attempts and just one on target, while Real Madrid had 61 percent possession. But the difference in the match was Ronaldo, who put Atletico on their heels with a strong header in the 10th minute and added two more in the second half to give Real Madrid plenty of breathing room on aggregate.

Ronaldo’s second goal was a showcase of what makes him such an effective finisher at 32 years old. The ball took a fortunate bounce after Ronaldo chipped it by a falling defender with his left foot on the edge of the penalty area. He watched it drop perfectly for a powerful right-foot strike, displaying great patience before blasting the ball past the outstretched arm of Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

If anyone has an answer for Ronaldo, it might be the staunch back line of Juventus, which once again silenced a fearsome attacking side Wednesday to move closer to its second Champions League final appearance in three years. This time the victim was AS Monaco, who had been terrifying opponents with the deadly quickness of 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe. Juventus stymied Mbappe and Monaco on their home turf, bending on quick counter-attack opportunities but never allowing their defensive posture to break.

Gianluigi Buffon made five saves, the biggest one coming on a first-touch shot by Mbappe from the edge of the goal area early in the match with the score still level. Monaco continued to press after a slow start, but it was Gonzalo Higuain who broke the deadlock in the 29th minute thanks to a superb run and back heel pass from Dani Alves. Higuain, who entered the match with two goals in 24 Champions League knockout stage appearances, made good on another perfect pass from Alves in the 59th minute, giving Juventus two away goals to work with when they host the second leg.

Mbappe had five goals in his previous four Champions League starts, and Monaco’s run to the semifinals has been fuelled by surprising offensive performances. But they now need two goals on the road to pull even with a Juventus club that has only allowed two goals all tournament, while Atletico must beat their rivals 3-0, which is a scoreline they haven’t managed against Real Madrid in 26 years.